Bulls finally win, beat Lions 25-17
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — The Bulls finally won three rounds into the Super 15 while dishing out the Lions’ first loss in a dominant 25-17 win at rainy Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The three-time champion Bulls fell to the Sharks and Cheetahs on the road, lost captain Pierre Spies for six months to a bicep injury, and had to come home to finish a game with smiles.
The scoreline flattered the Lions, who, after not playing last year because they were relegated, surprisingly won their first two matches, and in style.
Despite a never-say-die attitude, the Lions struggled for possession and made a hash of what ball they didn’t kick away in the rain. They scored two tries to one, but both were chargedowns.
Bulls flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter kicked five penalties, the conversion and a 40-metre dropped goal. He missed only two goalkicks. Lions counterpart Marnitz Boshoff had only two penalties, both in the first half, and nailed his first and hit the post with the other.
The Bulls deserved their early 6-0 lead. From the kickoff after the second penalty, Bulls fullback Jurgen Visser was slow clearing and Lions midfielder Stefan Watermeyer scored from a chargedown. The Lions led 7-6 but for only 10 minutes.
The Bulls counterattacked from their own half off a Lions kick ahead, left wing Bjorn Basson was given an overlap, drew the last man and sent in inside centre Jan Serfontein.
Potgieter’s dropped goal and third penalty had the Bulls 19-10 up at halftime.
In a scrappy second half, two more Potgieter penalties made it 25-10 with seven minutes to go, ensuring the Bulls avoided their worst start since 2005.
It took a couple of Bulls mistakes to concede the Lions’ second try. Lock Victor Matfield, making his first start of the season, passed nowhere and then scrumhalf Francois Hougaard’s kick bounced off the head of Lions replacement hooker Willie Wepener, who scored.
Bulls 25 (Jan Serfontein try; Jacques-Louis Potgieter conversion, 5 penalties, dropped goal), Lions 17 (Stefan Watermeyer, Willie Wepener tries; Marnitz Boshoff 2 conversions, penalty). HT: 19-10