Blue Bulls edge Lions in high-scoring humdinger Currie Cup battle

Andries Coetzee of the Lions during the 2023 Currie Cup match between Lions and Pumas at the Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg

The Blue Bulls have kept alive their hopes of making it to the Currie Cup semi-finals but it is going to be tough for the Lions after the heart-break loss to the visitors at Ellis Park on Saturday. Seen here: Andries Coetzee of the Lions. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published May 20, 2023


Johannesburg - It was vintage Currie Cup action at Ellis Park on Saturday when the trans-Jukskui derby between the Lions and the Bulls more than delivered on its billing and it was the visitors who hung on for a memorable 33-32 win.

The men from Pretoria have kept alive their hopes of making it to the semi-finals but it is going to be tough for the Lions after the heart-break loss.

The Bulls set the pace and after three minutes of pressure No 8 Elrigh Louw blasted over, and a few high-paced minutes later David Kriel stretched over after a great run by Nizaam Carr.

The Lions hit back in unexpected style when No 8 Francke Horn showed good soccer skills to nudge a loose ball toward the line, gather and score.

Sanele Nohamba converted and shortly after added a penalty but his opposite number, Embrose Papier pushed the Bulls clear again when he wriggled through a gap to score the Bull’s third try as the first action-packed quarter ended.

The visitors had their bonus-point try two minutes later when prop Mornay Smith was up in support after centre Harold Vorster had broken the line.

On 30 minutes there was a big moment when the Lions were awarded a penalty try. Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar had pulled down a surging maul and went to the bin for his sin.

The Lions’ looked like they had scored when winger Edwill van der Merwe took a quick tap penalty and then grubbered the ball to the in-goal area. He won the race to ground it but it was disallowed because he had brushed the ball forward in the build-up.

A consolation was a penalty by Nohamba shortly before halftime to narrow it to 20-26 but, after the break, Van der Merwe scored probably the best try the Currie Cup has seen this year when he scorched 60m from a lineout inside his team’s half and beat a host of defenders with outright pace.

Nohamba pushed the conversion wide to leave the Bulls ahead 26-25.

Marcell Coetzee celebrated his return from Japan when he bustled over in typical fashion for the Bulls’ fifth try but the irrepressible Van der Merwe put the cat among the pigeons with another strong finish, this time after he was set up down the blindside by substitute scrumhalf Morne van den Berg.

The Lions were one point short at 33-32 and they almost snatched it at the death when a Gianni Lombard drop goal went just wide.


Lions 32 — Tries: Francke Horn, Penalty Try, Edwill van der Merwe (2). Conversions: Sanele Nohamba, Gianni Lombard. Penalties: Nohamba (2)

Bulls 33 — Tries: Elrigh Louw, David Kriel, Embrose Papier, Mornay Smith, Marcell Coetzee. Conversions: Johan Goosen (4)


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