Derick Minnie scored two tries as the MTN Golden Lions hammered the Vodacom Blue Bulls 62-23 (half-time 20-16) in an entertaining Absa Currie Cup Premier Division match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
Flank Minnie scored two of the Lions’ seven tries while flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff, who shifted to fullback midway through the second half, kicked 22 points courtesy of two penalties and eight conversions as the visitors turned in a superb second-half performance to stun the Bulls.
The Lions scored six second-half tries, three of them coming when the Bulls had been reduced to 14 men because of a yellow-card to loosehead prop Morne Mellett, as the visitors completed their first win of the season after losses to the Free State Cheetahs and the Sharks.
The Lions fed off of Bulls’ mistakes in the first half but they were well-deserving victors as they ran their opponents off their feet in the second stanza as they took control of the breakdown against the shell-shocked Bulls.
Bulls flyhalf Tony Jantjies and his opposite number Boshoff traded early penalties before the match became a free-flowing affair.
Both teams showed a willingness to run the ball during the opening exchanges but it was the Bulls who were gaining the most momentum early on and their industry was rewarded after they took the ball through 12 phases before left wing Travis Ismail nabbed his first Currie Cup try when he outstripped the cover defence to scamper over from 20 metres out.
Tony Jantjies missed his conversion attempt but the Bulls led 8-3 after 13 minutes.
However, the Lions took the lead for the first time just four minutes later when flank Jaco Kriel was mauled over for a converted try after the visitors had opted to kick a penalty to the corner to set up an attacking lineout.
The Bulls fought back once again and they grabbed their second try, in the 24th minute, after right wing Sampie Mastriet sparked a counter-attack from deep inside his own half before fullback Jurgen Visser sliced through the Lions’ defence to slide over on the right-hand corner for an unconverted score.
The Bulls held a narrow three-point lead but the Lions showed that they would not be bullied when eighthman Willie Britz scooped up a loose ball on the Bulls’ 10-metre line before setting off on a barnstorming run which carried him to just short of the tryline.
Britz was finally hauled in just short of the line after a high tackle from Ismail but Lions’ wing Deon Hellberg was on hand to pick up the ball and dive over for a converted try.
Visser, who moved to flyhalf and took over the goal-kicking duties after Tony Jantjies went off injured in the 25th minute, and Boshoff then traded late penalties as the Lions went to the break holding a 20-16 lead.
The Bulls started the second half in fine fashion and just three minutes after the restart replacement wing Clayton Blommetjies split the Lions’ defence before off-loading to inside centre Francois Venter who crashed over for a converted try.
The hosts were reduced to 14 men in the 50th minute when Mellett was yellow-carded for deliberately collapsing the maul and the Lions took almost immediate advantage when Britz stretched over to score in the tackle for a converted try as the visitors took almost complete control of the match.
The Lions added to their score just four minutes later through a superb piece of rugby as a sweeping move, with some wonderful interplay between backs and forwards, saw Minnie gallop over from 20 metres out.
The Lions were rampant and Minnie scored his second try when he rounded off a move started by a sniping run from replacement flyhalf Elton Jantjies as the visitors stormed into a 41-23 lead after 60 minutes.
The impressive right wing Anthony Volmink then made sure of the win with an intercept try before replacement lock Warwick Tecklenburg and Elton Jantjies also went over for tries.
VODACOM BLUE BULLS – Tries: Travis Ismaiel, Jurgen Visser, Francois Venter; Conversion: Visser; Penalties: Tony Jantjies, Visser.
MTN GOLDEN LIONS – Tries: Jaco Kriel, Deon Helberg, Willie Britz, Derick Minnie (2), Anthony Volmink, Warwick Tecklenburg, Elton Jantjies; Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (8); Penalties: Boshoff (2).