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Bulls maul toothless Lions

URC MATCH REPORT: The Bulls bounced back from last week’s shocker when they demolished a very poor Lions team 34-10 at Ellis Park on Saturday.


The bonus-point win ensures the Bulls don’t loose any more ground in the United Rugby Championship race, while the Lions need to do a whole lot more than just go back to the drawing board.

The Bulls dominated possession and territory in the first half, having also 60 percent of the ball. It saw the Lions make almost double the number of tackles of the Bulls – but with a poor success rate of barely 80 percent.

They were almost their own worst enemies, their execution nothing more than a comedy of errors.

It did not help that Lions captain Burger Odendaal was knocked out cold, getting his head on the wrong side in a tackle, early in the second half. He departed on a mobile stretcher.

The home team also lost veteran utility forward Willem Alberts to injured midway through the second half.

The only real positive for the Lions was their powerful scrums and the occasional maul.


In contrast, the Bulls’ forward laid a solid platform, allowing veteran flyhalf Morne Steyn to dictate term.

From the kick-off the Bulls charged upfield, breaking tackles almost at will, the Lions eventually conceding a penalty for a high tackle. Morne Steyn, from 48 metres out, opened the scoring.

The Lions’ line-out woes continued, as the home team still struggled to win decent ball on their own throw.

Some woeful defence also allowed the Bulls to make plenty of free metres with the ball in hand.

Their advantage was in their powerful scrums, which also earned them an early penalty. Fred Zeilinga, from about 40 metres on the angle, opened the Lions’ account – 3-all.


Another messy Lions line-out resulted in a free kick to the Bulls. However, the Bulls conceded a penalty as a result of a very sloppy chase.

Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee won his team a breakdown penalty, with flyhalf Morne Steyn slotting it from just on 50 metres out – 6-3 after 12 minutes.

The Lions’ lack of discipline also let them, with a number of breakdown penalties going against them.

That resulted in the first try of the match – hooker Johan Grobbelaar getting an armchair ride from a powerful maul. Steyn made it 13-3 with the conversion.

Another breakdown penalty saw the Lions under pressure near their own tryline. However, a possible try was overturned by the TMO for a knock-on.

The Lions’ defence continued to leak like a rusty sieve and the hosts were soon back on their own line. And it was scrumhalf Embrose Papier sniping over from close range for the Bulls’ second try. Steyn made it 20-3 just past the half-hour mark.

Out of nowhere, the Lions seemed to find the energy and drive to launch a counter-punch. However, the TMO found some obstruction, resulting in a possible try being overturned.

And the poor discipline continued to cost the Lions, as they coughed up 10 first-half penalties.

However, a rare mistake by the visitors saw the Lions winning a penalty and setting up a line-out inside the Bulls’ 22-metre area. That became another penalty, only for Zeilinga to jack the ball dead, instead of being able to set up another maul near the Bulls’ line – the visitors lead 20-3 at the break.

Early in the second half, Zeilinga missed with a sitter of a penalty, the Lions’ shocking execution now also coasting them. Soon afterwards the flyhalf had another shot at goal, this time from 45 metres out, pushing it wide.

Zeilinga’s nightmare continued, a shocking knock-on inside his own 22-metre area gifting the Bulls and attacking scrum.

From there the Bulls forward took the ball through numerous phases, eventually winning a penalty five metres out. That became a tap-and-go, Arno Botha barging over as the Lions’ already woeful defence completely disintegrated. Steyn made it 27-3 with the conversion.

Just before the hour mark Ruan Nortje was yellow-carded for repeated infringement by his team, allowing the Lions to set up a maul and Jaco Kriel finally gave the home team something to shout about,. Replacement Tiaan Swanepoel took over the kicking and slotted the conversion – 10-27.

The Lions continued to fumble their way through the game, wasting a number of opportunities inside the Bulls’ 22-metre area.

In contrast, the Bulls were more clinical, Harold Vorster getting the bonus-point try in the 75th minute – a set-piece move from a scrum under pressure.

Despite a later rash of penalties against the Bulls, the Lions’ shockingly poor execution and increasing error rate saw the visitors leave Ellis Park with a 34-10 win.

Man of the match: For the Lions, Jaco Kriel tried gamely, but mostly appeared to be a one-man show. Morne Steyn did not have his best day at the office, but was still very influential and classy. Lock Ruan Nortje, despite yellow card, was energetic and very productive, while hooker Johan Grobbelaar was also very busy. The biggest influencers were the Bulls loose trio of Elrigh Louw, Arno Botha and Marcell Coetzee – with our award going to the Bulls skipper, Marcell Coetzee, for his boundless energy, breakdown work, high tackle rate and some powerful carries.

The scorers

For the Lions
Try: Kriel
Con: Swanepoel
Pen: Zeilinga

For the Bulls
Tries: Grobbelaar, Papier, Botha, Vorster
Cons: Steyn 4
Pens: Steyn 2

Yellow card: Ruan Nortje (Bulls, 56 – repeated infringements, illegally collapsing maul)


Lions: 15 EW Viljoen, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Willem Alberts, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Pieter Botha, 1 Sithembiso Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Morne Brandon, 17 Morgan Naude, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Ruan Venter, 20 Ruhan Straeuli, 21 Sibusiso Sangweni, 22 Morne van den Berg, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel.

Bulls: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Embrose Papier; 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Jacques van Rooyen, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Simphiwe Matanzima.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Robert Hunt, 19 Janko Swanepoel , 20 Muller Uys; 21 Zak Burger, 22 Chris Smith , 23 David Kriel.

Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa) & Griffin Colby (South Africa)
TMO: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)


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