Pretoria – The Golden Lions powered to a 32-22 victory over the Blue Bulls in their Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
As dull and dreary as the first half was, it came alive magnificently in the second of the Jukskei Derby.
With both sides desperate for victory at the halfway mark of this year’s competition, it seemed like neither wanted to make the first move.
The Lions, however, got the first points on the board with a penalty conversion from Elton Jantjies in the ninth minute after he missed with his first attempt two minutes earlier.
The hosts countered in emphatic fashion when Bulls scrumhalf Ruan Snyman got over the whitewash after some enterprising play by fullback Clayton Blommetjies.
The Bulls only added three more points to their first half score thanks to a penalty conversion by flyhalf Louis Fouche.
The visitors were trailing by five points with a penalty conversion by flyhalf Jantjies shortly before the half-time break until they struck a psychological blow.
Winger Deon Helberg scored his side’s first five-pointer of the evening with centre Lionel Mapoe playing a key role in the build-up to the try.
Jantjies converted to hand his side the lead for the second time in the match.
The Lions opened the second half with Mapoe showing a touch of magic, kicking a grubber kick he fielded himself, then offloaded wide to Alwyn Hollenbach to score (15-8).
The home-side struck back with centre Francois Venter capitalising on a loose ball from a ruck on the Lions 22-metre line to score his try, with Fouche converting to level the scores.
The Johannesburg side continued their expansive play with Jantjies skillfully chipping the ball over the defenders’ heads, which he picked up himself to get over the advantage line.
Jantjies switched with Jaco Taute, who sprinted to the tryline to score a try in his comeback game from a long injury lay-off.
The Lions flyhalf converted the try and added a penalty conversion 10 minutes later to extend their lead to 10 points.
With the clock winding down, the Bulls narrowed the gap with a Fouche penalty conversion and came close to equalling the scores once again when Clayton Blommetjies dove over for his try.
Fouche, however, failed with the conversion attempt, leaving his side trailing by two points.
The Lions then added two more tries within two minutes of each other with Mapoe deservedly scoring his side’s bonus-point try.
Blue Bulls 22 (8): Tries: Ruan Snyman, Francois Venter, Clayton Blommetjies. Conversion: Louis Fouche. Penalties: Fouche (2) Golden Lions 32 (10): Tries: Deon Helberg, Alwyn Hollenbach, Jaco Taute, Lionel Mapoe. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3). Penalties: Elton Jantjies (2). – Sapa