The MTN Golden Lions cruised to a convincing 45-15 win in their Vodacom Cup match against the Leopards XV at the Pirates Rugby Club in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon, thanks to a devastating three-try surge in the final quarter.
The Lions led 12-8 at halftime.
The Leopards opted not to use some of their first-choice players who are representing the Pukke in the Varsity Cup, and their inexperience was brutally exposed by an experienced Lions team, especially in the final quarter in which tries by Warren Whiteley, Antonie Volmink and Andries Coetzee enabled the hosts to score 21 points.
Armand van der Merwe spared the Leopards XV some blushes with an 82nd-minute try which was converted by the substitute flyhalf, former Springbok André Pretorius.
The Lions dominated territory and possession throughout, but were denied by early-season rust and handling errors close to the tryline.
Their over-exuberance and lack of execution benefited the Leopards, and they allowed the Lions only two first-half tries.
Whiteley and Jaco Kriel, who deservedly received the man-of-the-match award, were prominent among the forwards as they linked expertly with the backline and contributed to the Lions’ dominance at the breakdowns.
Whiteley, a member of the Blitzbokke squad at the end of 2012, used his pace well in support play.
The Lions' three-quarters showed their mettle throughout the encounter as Dylan des Fountain and JP du Plessis were enterprising and gave the wings, Anthony Volmink and Deon van Rensburg, try-scoring opportunities.
To their credit, the Leopards defended dourly throughout the bruising encounter. They only allowed the hosts a 21-8 cushion until the final 12 minutes in which the three-try-spree gave the Lions some scoreboard daylight.
MTN Golden Lions – Tries: Deon van Rensburg, JJ Breet, Lionel Cronje, Robbie Coetzee, Warren Whiteley, Antonie Volminck, Andries Coetzee, Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2), Marnitz Boshoff (3)
Leopards XV – Tries: Danie Dames, Armand van der Merwe: Penalty Warren Gilbert; Conversion: Andre Pretorius.