The Lions scored 14 tries in their 94-7 thrashing of the Sunwolves in Johannesburg on Saturday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
If you didn’t know better, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a coaching clinic rather than a Super Rugby contest. In their penultimate round-robin match, the Lions seized control of proceedings from the outset and remained unrelenting until the end.
From an individual perspective, there were statement performances from Ruan Combrinck, who scored a hat-trick, and flanks Jaco Kriel and Kwagga Smith, who were rewarded with two tries each; while Elton Jantjies’ accuracy off the kicking tee also stood out. The flyhalf succeeded with six out of seven attempts at goal.
The result has no impact on the Africa 2 conference log, as the Lions had wrapped up the conference title prior to this match and the Sunwolves were already rooted to the bottom. But the bonus-point win does keep the Lions in the hunt to finish at the top of the overall table, although they will need the Hurricanes to beat the Crusaders.
The Lions made a blistering start as their slick attack was aided by their dominance in possession, which saw them secure the bonus point as early as the 27th minute, with Cronjé, Kriel and Smith (twice) all crashing over. Jantjies went through a gap on the stroke of half-time for a self-converted effort as the Lions led 35-0.
In the first half alone, the Lions made 405 running metres to 126, while completing 75 carries to 27. The Sunwolves were a shambles in defence. They were forced to make 63 tackles in the same period, of which a whopping 26 were missed.
There would be no riposte from the Willie Britz-led Sunwolves, as things went from bad to worse for the visitors after the resumption. In a helter-skelter second half, the Lions cut loose, running in double the number of tries they had in the first.
Replacement hooker Akker van der Merwe dotted down for the first try of the half, but it was Combrinck who posed the biggest threat to the Sunwolves’ ill-fated defence, with all three of his tries coming in the last 40 minutes.
The Sunwolves did get a consolation try through lock Uwe Helo, but the Lions resumed their rampaging ways to revert the result from lopsided to a humiliating demolition of the Sunwolves.
Lions – Tries: Ross Cronjé, Jaco Kriel (2), Kwagga Smith (2), Elton Jantjies, Akker van der Merwe, Ruan Combrinck (3), Courtnall Skosan, Faf de Klerk (2), Sylvian Mahuza, Ruan Ackermann. Conversions: Jantjies (6), Combrinck (5), De Klerk.
Sunwolves – Try: Uwe Helo. Conversion: Jumpei Ogura.
Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.
Sunwolves – 15 Yasutaka Sasakura, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Ryohei Yamanaka, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Teruya Goto, 10 Jumpei Ogura, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willie Britz (c), 7 Shokei Kin, 6 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5 Kotaro Yata.
Subs: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Malgene Ilaua, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Kotaro Matsushima.
Photo: Anne Laing/HM Images