Late try against Bulls earns Lions third straight win

The Lions came from behind and snatched a 22-18 victory over the Bulls to earn their third straight win at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The result brings an end to the the Bulls four match winning streak but the Bulls losing bonus point moves them above the Sharks on points difference and into third place overall.

The two teams could not be separated for longer than a few minutes in the final quarter as Jacques Louis Potgieter and Elton Jantjies exchanged penalties and the lead.

Trailing by three points with time running out in a damp Johannesburg, the Lions gambled by taking a tap penalty rather than a kick at goal that would almost certainly have ensured a draw.

Little replaceement scrum-half Faf de Klerk caught the slow-to-retreat Bulls napping at Ellis Park with his tap-and-go penalty and passed to Van der Merwe, who barged over near the post.

Fly-half Elton Jantjies converted to make a 17-point contribution having succeeded with five of seven penalty attempts in challenging conditions.

Rival playmaker Jacques-Louis Potgieter, deputising for injured Handre Pollard, kicked six penalties for the Bulls from eight shots at goal.

There was never more than six points between the Johannesburg-based Lions and the Pretoria-based Bulls in a gripping Gauteng derby watched by a vibrant Easter weekend crowd.

Ironically, the Bulls benefited more from collecting a losing bonus point than the Lions did from gathering four for the victory.

The Bulls rose five places to third, displacing the Coastal Sharks on superior points difference after the Durban team suffered a humiliating 52-10 home loss against the Crusaders.

But the Lions’ fourth win in five outings — four of them on an Australasia tour — lifted them just one place to 10th in the overall southern hemisphere inter-provincial championship table.

Only two points separate the Bulls and the Lions in the South African conference, though, with the Sharks and the  Stormers in between.

Lions skipper and No. 8 Warren Whiteley said he was happy with the risky tap-and-go decision.

“That is the nature of this wonderful bunch of guys — they all want to fight to the end for victory,” he said.

“Maybe we were a bit lucky tonight, but luck has not always been with us this season.

“It is easy leading these Lions. This was our eighth consecutive match and the spirit among us remains remarkably high.”

The Lions are at home again next week as they host the Sharks while the Bulls host the Reds in Pretoria.

Final Score Lions 22 (6) Bulls 18 (9) 

Scorers

Lions 
Tries – A.van der Merwe
Pen – E.Jantjies 5
Con – E.Jantjies
Drop –
Cards –

Bulls
Tries –
Pen – J.Potgieter 6
Con –
Drop –

Cards –Match Officials

Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Ref 1:Jason Jaftha
Assistant Ref 2:Stephan Geldenhuys
TMO :Shaun Veldsman

Teams

Lions

15. Andries Coetzee , 14. Ruan Combrinck , 13. Lionel Mapoe , 12. Harold Vorster , 11. Anthony Volmink , 10. Elton Jantjies , 9. Ross Cronje , 8. Warren Whiteley (c) , 7. Warwick Tecklenburg , 6. Derick Minnie , 5. Franco Mostert , 4. Andries Ferreira , 3. Ruan Dreyer , 2. Robbie Coetzee , 1. Jacques van Rooyen

Replacements : 16. Armand van der Merwe , 17. Corne Fourie , 18. Julian Redelinghuys , 19. Robert Kruger , 20. Jaco Kriel , 21. Faf de Klerk , 22. Marnitz Boshoff , 23. Howard Mnisi

Bulls

Jesse Kriel , Francois Hougaard , JJ Engelbrecht , Burger Odendaal, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Rudy Paige, Pierre Spies (c), Hanro Liebenberg, Deon Stegmann, Grant Hattingh, Jacques du Plessis, Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss, Dean Greyling .

Replacements: Callie Visagie, Morne Mellett , Marcel van der Merwe, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Roelof Smit, Piet van Zyl, Tian Schoeman, Jurgen Visser.

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