Pretoria – Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann said their plans fell into place for his side’s severe 62-23 win against the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
“We had been disappointed over the last two weeks and a week later it changed. It worked for us tonight where things just clicked – we countered well and scored some good tries,” Ackermann said after the game.
The first 45 minutes was a more balanced affair than the final score suggested, but a yellow card against Bulls prop Morné Mellett sparked a stunning collapse from the home side.
In the 10 minutes Mellett spent on the sideline, the Lions ran in three converted tries for a morale-crushing 21 points.
The Bulls were a spent force by the time they were back to full strength, while the Lions were playing with unbridled confidence.
Lions captain Derick Minnie said while it was an exciting victory for the players, they could not afford any false bravado with seven more rounds left in the league phase of the competition.
“All credit to the guys. Everyone did their bit and we got what we wanted, but now we must keep our feet on the ground and prepare for next week,” Minnie said.
Bulls coach Pine Pienaar said his team’s discipline and their errors had cost them dearly on the night. They would need to do some serious introspection to ensure they do not suffer a defeat like this again.
“The Lions played excellent rugby in the second half, but it also has to do with the mistakes we made. We knew if we gave them broken play, they would be deadly and that is what happened,” Pienaar said.
“What happened tonight is inexcusable, so we’ll have to go and have a look at the game and see which points we need to address.”
Pienaar said while they were mindful of the Lions’ ability to counterattack, his charges allowed the visitors enough space and opportunity to do just that.
“We have to make sure we get a win next week in an away game, otherwise the competition can get away from us quickly,” he said.
“We spoke in the beginning about how dangerous it is when you give the opposition even the smallest of opportunities.
“At junior levels you can still get away with it and you can scramble in defence, but it is a massive lesson for us.”
While the Lions demonstrated their attacking flair with the ball in hand, they also flexed their muscle among the forwards.
Three of their tries came off physical driving mauls from lineouts, exposing the Bulls pack’s weakness and highlighting that the Lions can vary their play.
The Lions next take on early log-leaders Western Province at Ellis Park, while the Bulls take on the second-placed Sharks in Durban.