Bulls cruise to clinical opening win over Lions

The Bulls cruised to a comfortable 31-15 (halftime 15-8)win over Lions in a scrappy opening game of the United Rugby Championship (URC) for the two teams at Ellis Park on Saturday evening.

Both teams made a number of mistakes over the game, but it was the home side who made the most, while also giving away a number of penalties to allow the Bulls to pull away in the second half after they had drawn the scores level with 35 minutes to play.

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In the match the Bulls got off to a flying start, confidently working their way up field from the kick-off, into the Lions 22m where they earned a penalty, took a quick tap, with captain Marcell Coetzee powering over for the opening score, converted by flyhalf Chris Smith for an early 7-0 lead.

The first scrum of the game then brought the Lions their first points, as from a Bulls put in a massive scrum from the hosts earned them a penalty on the 10m, with Jordan Hendrikse nailing the kick to make it 7-3 after seven minutes.

Smith moved the Bulls back seven ahead with a penalty in the 21st minute, after Lions centre Marius Louw was pinged for tackling a player without the ball on the 22m line in front of the posts.

Straight from the kick-off the Bulls then scored a superb try, going end to end as they attacked from behind own try line before kicking the ball ahead.

The visitors then turned the ball over at the breakdown, attacked into the Lions 22m and Coetzee popped the ball to wing Cornel Hendriks to go over in the corner, with Smith missing the conversion to leave the score 15-3 after 24 minutes.

The final 10 minutes of the half then belonged to the home side as they enjoyed their best spell, as a good maul in midfield earned them a penalty, which they kicked deep into the Bulls 22m and then mauled the ball over from the lineout, with eighthman Francke Horn dotting down.

Hendrikse missed the conversion from touch and then missed an easier penalty three minutes later, before a late mistake at a lineout deep in the Bulls 22m let the away side off again as they got to halftime with a 15-8 lead.

Faded away

The Lions then enjoyed the perfect start to the second half, attacking from a lineout in the Bulls 22m, swinging the ball one way and back the next, with Louw bursting through a hole to score, with Hendrikse converting to level the scores after 45 minutes.

However the home side then faded away terribly over the rest of the game as a plethora of mistakes and silly penalties allowed the Bulls to pull away, with Smith kicking three penalties to move them nine points ahead.

The Bulls then shut the door on any possible comeback in the 73rd minute as they set up a lineout deep in the Lions 22m, and powered a big maul over with replacement hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels dotting down before Morne Steyn added the extras to seal the impressive win.

Scorers

Lions: Tries – Francke Horn, Marius Louw; Conversion- Jordan Hendrikse; Penalty – Hendrikse

Bulls: Tries – Marcell Coetzee, Cornal Hendricks, Jan-Hendrik Wessels; Conversions: Chris Smith, Morne Steyn; Penalties: Smith (4)