The Golden Lions continued their unbeaten start to the Currie Cup season with a hard-fought 36-27 victory over the Blue Bulls in an ill-disciplined clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Lions started the brighter of the two sides and two early penalties from the boot of flyhalf Elton Jantjies had the visitors in the lead at 6-0. But the Blue Bulls soon replied with a try to Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle.
The home side had built some good forward momentum and bashed their way towards the Lions tryline with advantage in their favour, they were eventually brought down just short before Ralepelle picked the ball up from the base of the ruck and snuck over in the corner to get the Men from Pretoria on the board.
The Blue Bulls took the lead for the first time when flyhalf Francois Brummer slotted a penalty after the Lions had interfered at a line-out and the two kickers then exchanged two more penalties to make it 11-9 to the Blue Bulls.
Veteran wing Akona Ndungane made an impressive break in midfield, bursting through the Lions defence, and he carried the ball up to the 22 where he was eventually brought down. The ball was recycled quickly and shifted wide and outside centre Stefan Watermeyer was on hand to go over in the corner for the Blue Bulls' second try.
The response from the the Lions was immediate. Blue Bulls scrumhalf Dustin Jinka lost the ball forward and the visitors pounced on it, skipper Joshua Strauss then barged through Brummer's ineffectual tackle to score easily. Jantjies' conversion levelled the scores but the Blue Bulls hit back on the stroke of half-time to snatch the lead back.
Lions loose forward Derick Minnie was penalised at the breakdown and Brummer slotted the penalty after the siren to give his side a slender 19-16 lead at the break.
The visitors applied some early pressure in the second half, and refused to aim at poles as they continually kicked it to the corner in search of another try. Springbok lock Flip van der Merwe was eventually shown a yellow card as the result of continual infringements by his team and Jantjies knocked the penalty over to level the scores at 19-19.
The home side gave away a torrent of penalties at the breakdown and the Lions finally made them pay when Michael Killian dived over in the corner to score his side's second try.
After a strong line-out drive the Lions spun it wide and Killian was on hand to finish things off after quick hands from the players inside him had freed up just enough space.
Jantjies' conversion gave the visitors a crucial seven-point advantage but that was short-lived as Brummer slotted another penalty shortly afterwards after some good work at the breakdown by Springbok flank Deon Stegmann.
Van der Merwe was ejected from the field of play for good after a series of different infringements in one passage of play gave the referee no option but to show him a red card with ten minutes left. The resultant penalty was goaled by Jantjies and the Lions had their precious seven-point lead back at 29-22.
The next player to be sent to the sin bin was Lions replacement Michael Rhodes who held a charging Ndungane back off the ball. The Blue Bulls launched a characteristic driving maul as they sought to level the scores, but they were stopped just short of the line and awarded an attacking scrum.
The Lions defended manfully as the hosts threw everything they had at them and the pressure finally told when Ndungane showed his finishing ability by placing the ball in the corner to bring his team to within two points.
Brummer missed the crucial touchline conversion and the Lions responded by sealing the game with a late try of their own. Replacement loose forward Warren Whitely was put in some space by a good pass and he thundered down the touchline before giving it on the inside to the the flying Killian who got over for his second.
Jantjies' conversion was good, making it 36-27 to the Lions and that was how it stayed until the end of what was a fiercely contested and ill-disciplined trans-Jukskei derby.
Man of the match: Determined Lions skipper Joshua Strauss stood out, playing with good intensity and leading his team by setting a fine example.
For the Blue Bulls:
Tries: Ralepelle, Watermeyer, Ralepelle
Pens: Brummer 4
For the Golden Lions:
Tries: Strauss, Killian 2
Cons: Jantjies 3
Pens: Jantjies 6
Blue Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Stephan Dippenaar, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Dustin Jinka, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 6 Derick Küun, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Fudge Mabeta, 19 Deon Stegmann, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 Marntiz Boshoff, 22 Jurgen Visser.
Lions: 15 Michael Killian, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Patric Cilliers, 18 Michael Rhodes, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Jaco Taute.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.