JOHANNESBURG – Despite missing several key forwards, the Lions said they had no excuses after being “taught a rugby lesson” by the Bulls.
The men from Pretoria were in a destructive mood as they became the first South African team in four years to beat the Lions at Ellis Park.
Using their bigger and more experienced forwards, their pack laid the foundation for their performance, which resulted in the Bulls triumphing 30-12.
The last time a local team knocked over the Lions in Joburg was on February 15, 2015 – the Stormers winning that day.
While the statistics from the match show it was an even third-round Super Rugby contest, the Bulls won most of the small battles, which resulted in total domination for most of the 80 minutes.
“We have no excuses,” said Lions coach Swys de Bruin after the match. “We were outplayed by the better team on the day. We were taught a rugby lesson.
“They suffocated us and didn’t give us any ball to play with... and we’re the kind of team that needs the ball to play.”
Physically, the Bulls won the upfront battle, with veteran hooker Schalk Brits and equally experienced No 8 Duane Vermeulen leading the charge.
The likes of Eli Snyman, Jason Jenkins and Ruan Steenkamp also got stuck in to the lighter and less experienced Lions pack, which was minus key forwards like Warren Whiteley, Cyle Brink, Marvin Orie and the recently departed grafters Andries Ferreira, Franco Mostert, and props Ruan Dreyer and Jacques van Rooyen.
“It doesn’t matter that we had some guys out there who are new to this level of rugby. This is Super Rugby, and you’ve got to man up.
“We didn’t man up – we were outmuscled by the Bulls, and we’ll have to go and do our analysis and rectify where things went wrong,” De Bruin said.
“It starts with me as the coach. This defeat is definitely one of the low points of my career. It has left a horrible taste in the mouth... and I’ve been here at the Lions for 93 games.
“It’s disappointing, but you have to take it on the chin and move on; if you don’t, then you shouldn’t be in sport.”
The Lions have now gone three matches without the dangerous and highly touted back division being able to score a try.
“Yes, it is a concern (that the backs haven’t scored yet), but you can only play if you get quality front-foot ball,” said De Bruin.
Lions v Bulls | Super Rugby 2019 Rd 3 Highlights— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) March 2, 2019
The @BlueBullsRugby prove too strong in Johannesburg to take away an impressive 30-12 victory against the @LionsRugbyCo#SuperRugby #LIOvBUL pic.twitter.com/DCQ3GbVKSz