The Lions had such high hopes for their first home game of the Super Rugby campaign, but found themselves battered by a Bulls team that smothered them to such an extent that they were out of the game at halftime.
Pote Human’s men played a percentage game to perfection in winning 30-12.
It was the Bulls first success in seven years at Ellis Park and their first overall Super Rugby victory time since 2015 over the Lions, illustrating how lopsided this fixture has become in recent years.
While the Lions fought back bravely after trailing 14-0 at the break, scoring tries through props Carlu Sadie and Dylan Smith, they couldn’t make up the deficit as Bulls captain Handre Pollard scored 20 points in exploiting his side’s brilliantly executed, simple approach.
Who was the star in this game?
While the unerring kicking boot of Pollard was vital, it was plain to see why Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen (with Schalk Brits hot on his heels) was considered as such a great buy for the Bulls. He was at the forefront of the Bulls’ physical approach, especially in the first half as they shut the Lions out of the game. He was duly awarded with the first try of the game.
Key moments and themes
- The Bulls made their intentions clear from the outset, dominating large periods of the first half as the Lions struggled to get into the game. With the benefit of hindsight, it seems the men from Loftus anticipated that the hosts would be overly adventures and countered that approach superbly.
- Serious questions need to be asked over the Lions’ plan in the first half. They played far too much rugby in their own half and simply lacked the punching power in the collisions to push the Bulls back. The loose trio was far too lightweight and the locks also didn’t impose themselves.
- After priding themselves on their set-pieces over the past few years, the Lions found their lineout malfunctioning badly, especially when it wasn’t structured. A quick, wayward throw was also intercepted by replacement scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl for Warrick Gelant’s try.
- While they weren’t really required to create a lot of play, the Bulls will be chuffed that their fundamentals were executed so well. Their defence was excellent, as evidenced by a 91% success rate, while their lineout was faultless again. For a team with a reputation of being flaky in the unfashionable aspects of the game, this was encouraging.
Lions – Tries: Carlu Sadie, Dylan Smith. Conversion: Elton Jantjies.
Bulls – Tries: Duane Vermeulen, Warrick Gelant. Conversion: Handre Pollard. Penalties: Pollard (6).