Golden Lions topple Blue Bulls in Currie Cup

The Golden Lions kept in contact with the top sides on the log and retained their challenge to make the play-offs with a well-deserved 20-13 win at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.


The Blue Bulls were fortunate to take a losing bonus point from the match with a converted try and a penalty in the last two minutes after the Lions forwards had dominated most of the match.


The hosts had the better of the first quarter, with much kicking by both sides evident as they tried to play the percentages with some aerial ping-pong.


The Lions led 10-0 at the break – a similar advantage to their 13-0 lead they held the first time they played the Bulls earlier in the season.


But, whereas the Blue Bulls overhauled them to win 19-13 a few months ago, this time there was no comeback as the Lions defended well, turned over enough ball from the breakdowns and took a number of the vaulted Blue Bulls’ lineout throws, two of which indirectly led to their tries.


It was kicking to start off with from both sides, but as the game wore on, however, the Lions used their better possession well and ran it wide, with scrumhalf Jano Vermaak – who was again outstanding – using the possession well.


Whereas the Lions often looked dangerous on attack in the first 20 minutes, the Bulls mostly stuttered along without much possession on the front foot.


The Lions took advantage of this when Herkie Kruger slotted a penalty after 18 minutes to put his team in front. More attacking play from the Blue Bulls early in the second quarter saw them threaten the Lions goal line, but good defence – a feature of both teams’ play in a physical match – denied them points with Burton Francis missing a penalty and a drop kick.


The Lions deservedly increased their lead to 10 after 38 minutes through a try by Alwyn Hollenbach after a poor Blue Bulls lineout and subsequent free kick – and this was justice following Vermaak and Franco van der Merwe’s interplay in the previous move which came to nought.


The scoreline of 10-0 at the break probably didn’t seem daunting to the Blue Bulls, but when Jano Vermaak went over four minutes after the break, following a perfectly placed cross kick by Van der Merwe, the 17-0 lead became intimidating. Again it was a sloppy Bulls lineout that brought the opportunity.


There was a little more purpose to the Blue Bulls play after the break, the try notwithstanding.


They reverted to their strength of piling on the pressure up front and the reward came after 15 minutes when Francis put the Blue Bulls on the scoreboard (17-3). And then, in the last quarter, with most of the possession coming the Blue Bulls way, they took it wide as often as their forwards went on the drive.


But is was to no avail, despite a near-try by Jao Pretorius and a turned-over penalty to the Blue Bulls would have been justice for their efforts.


However, it was not the Blue Bulls’ day, and but for a poor pass by Kruger to Hollenbach with 10 minutes remaining, the Lions would have been in for another try.


Ten points in the last two minutes saved a bonus point for the Blue Bulls, with Pretorius scoring a converted try and replacement flyhalf Francois Brummer slotting a penalty.


Final Score Golden Lions 20 Blue Bulls 13


Scorers:


Lions:
Tries: Jano Vermaak, Alwyn Hollenbach.
Conversions: Herkie Kruger (2).
Penalties: Kruger (2)


Blue Bulls:
Try: Jaco Pretorius.
Conversion: Burton Francis:
Penalty: Burton Francis, Francois Brummer.

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