PRETORIA – With new rugby boss John Mitchell looking on, the Blue Bulls appeared to find new vigour in their attacking game to run out 54-22 Currie Cup victors over the Golden Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.
The Bulls scored eight tries in an impressive display of expansive rugby as they made the ball do the work and used their dangerous outside backs’ pace in the wide channels to run the Lions ragged.
Fullback Warrick Gelant – no doubt buoyed by his call-up to the Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship earlier in the evening – showed just why Bok coach Allister Coetzee has pulled him into the national set-up with an excellent overall performance.
Apart from his obvious skill as a ball-carrier and his pace, Gelant produced a number of effective kicks as well, while also being sound in covering at the back and in defence.
The Bulls stunned the Lions with a three-try blitz in the opening 11 minutes, with flyhalf Tony Jantjies displaying some of the skills that have made his brother Elton such a renowned playmaker.
Tony Jantjies took the ball strongly to the line, and pulled off a superb inside pass to a flying Jannes Kirsten, who showed off his handling skills by finding Piet van Zyl, who raced through the gap to dot down under the posts.
Jantjies sparked the second try too as he offloaded in the tackle to prop Pierre Schoeman, with lock Ruben van Heerden going over.
It was a case of third time lucky for Jantjies as he went over the whitewash himself as the Lions lost the ball at a ruck near their 22 and the Bulls No 10 picked up the ball and ran through untouched.
At 21-0 down, it was a long way back for the Lions, but they never gave up.
They eventually got on to the scoreboard in the 23rd minute when left wing Aphiwe Dyantyi rounded off after the Lions forwards were halted with their driving maul.
Soon afterwards, Bulls hooker Jan-Henning Campher was yellow-carded for coming in from the side of a five-metre driving maul, and the Lions took full advantage as first tighthead prop Andrew Beerwinkel and then Dyantyi crossed the try-line within four minutes of each other.
The visitors were right back in the game, but once Campher returned to the field, the Bulls regained their ascendancy.
Their pressure paid off as Gelant delayed his pass to the inside, and centre Burger Odendaal went over after the hooter to give his team a 28-15 lead.
The Bulls secured the victory 11 minutes after the break when right wing Travis Ismaiel produced two outstanding runs in the same movement, and captain Boom Prinsloo finished off.
Lions centre Stokkies Hanekom gave his team a sniff by scoring after a wonderful run by his midfield partner Jarryd Sage, but the Bulls scored three more tries in the last 10 minutes.
Blue Bulls 54 – Tries: Piet van Zyl, Ruben van Heerden, Tony Jantjies, Burger Odendaal, Boom Prinsloo, Travis Ismaiel, Warrick Gelant, Pierre Schoeman. Conversions: Tony Jantjies (5), JT Jackson (1), Tinus de Beer (1).
Golden Lions 22 – Tries: Aphiwe Dyantyi (2), Andrew Beerwinkel, Stokkies Hanekom. Conversion: Shaun Reynolds (1).
African News Agency