The one-sided scoreline of 94-7 pretty much told the story of the Lions’ hammering of the Sunwolves.
It was probably never going to be a game that was going to really test their structures but the ruthlessness they showed was encouraging as the business end of Super Rugby approaches.
It was the Lions’ biggest Super Rugby win and the poor Sunwolves’ biggest defeat.
With the Lions racing to a 21-0 lead after just 20 minutes in their clash on Saturday night at Ellis Park there wasn’t much doubt about who would take the spoils in this often enthralling encounter.
Who was the star in this match?
All 23 Lions probably could’ve taken this award for a sublime team effort but flanker Kwagga Smith has rapidly become a big crowd favourite with his brace of tries in the 20th and 27th minutes. His burst of speed and the way he can change direction while running excellent supporting lines is testimony of a player busy knocking hard on the Springboks’ door.
Key themes and moments
- There were just 12 minutes gone on the Ellis Park stadium clock when new Lions captain and flank Jaco Kriel burst through four Sunwolves defenders. Even when he was stopped but not held, he got up and fended off two more Sunwolves defenders on his way. Thrilling captain’s stuff.
- It couldn’t exactly be described as a key moment in this match but a similar event could become crucial in a potential playoff scenario if repeated. In the 25th minute, centre Lionel Mapoe was in the clear with two overlaps on his inside and just one Sunwolves defender present, but he preferred to go on his own and the try was disallowed. In a playoff, it could have cost the Lions severely.
- And what more can one say about Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies? He is just getting better and better, apart from kicking all five his conversions in the opening half he also fittingly scored the Lions’ fifth five-pointer just before the interval.
- Looking at the bigger picture, Lions coach Johan Ackermann took hooker Malcolm Marx and lock Franco Mostert off soon after half time to be replaced by Akker van der Merwe and Lourens Erasmus, respectively, despite having a bye next week. Their workload has been heavy in the recent Test series against France. It also gives their replacements some confidence. You never know when you’ll need them.
Lions: Tries: Ruan Combrinck (3), Jaco Kriel (2), Kwagga Smith (2), Ross Cronje, Elton Jantjies, Akker van der Merwe, Courtnall Skosan, Faf de Klerk, Sylvian Mahuza, Ruan Ackermann. Conversions: Jantjies (6), Combrinck (5), De Klerk.
Sunwolves: Try: Ewu Helu. Conversion: Jumpei Ogura.