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Bulls hold off Lions to claim Jukskei bragging rights

the Bull’s pulled off a nail-biting 43-37 victory over the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday thanks to a solid first-half performance in their Currie Cup clash.

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The defending champions and hosts went into the half-time break with a 35-17 advantage following some sparkling attacking rugby which produced five converted tries.

Their Gauteng neighbors crossed the line twice and also slotted a penalty goal.

However, a dramatic second half produced some exciting attacking rugby, lots of powerful scrums – especially from the visiting side – and brave defense from the home team.

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It was the team in white and red jerseys who came charging back with an outstanding second half display, outscoring the hosts by 20-8 to set up a thrilling finish which ended in a somewhat bizarre circumstance.

Lions Burger Odendaal (centre) unwittingly passed the ball to a grateful Richard Kriel inside the Lions in-goal area for the Bulls replacement center to dot down for the winning score.

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Before that try, the Lions roared back to within one point of the home side (38-37) to once more come within touching distance of registering that elusive first win of the 2022 campaign. But much like in their two previous two games, the Joburg outfit paid the price for making a slow start.

The result leaves the Bulls in first spot on the league table with 42 points from 10 games, followed by the Cheetahs on 41 points from their nine-game unbeaten run.

The Bulls pulled off a nail-biting victory over the Lions at Loftus Versfeld to retain their top spot in the Currie Cup standings. Photo: SA Rugby website

Gert Smal’s team raced into a 21-7 lead after just 20 minutes thanks to three well executed tries.

Skipper Lizo Gqoboka was the first one over the line when he was on hand to receive a tap-and-go pass from five meters out. The Jozi outfit showed great tenacity to hit back with a try of their own through Ruben Schoeman (lock), and when Jordan Hendrikse (flyhalf) added the extras, the scores were once more even at 7-all.

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Then followed a great passage of play for Light blue jerseys as they dominated territory and possession to score two more impressive, converted tries.

Experienced former Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis crashed over next to the upright after some powerful pick-and-goes, while he was followed over the whitewash by left wing David Kriel when he finished a clever lineout set-piece move.

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In between, Lions pivot Hendrikse slotted a penalty goal, but the home side kept on with trying to up the tempo. This tactic led to their fourth try, by No 5 lock Janko Swanepoel, who went over as the Lions struggled to match the intensity.

And when the home backs showed some lovely hands in limited space to create try number five, scored by outside center Stedman Gans. This passage of play stretched their advantage to 35-10.

With two minutes of play allowed after the half-time hooter has sounded already, the Joburg team produced a powerful scrum to set up a converted try for stalwart midfielder Odendaal, which brought the half-time score to 35-17.

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The second half was more of a cagey affair initially, with the Lions using their powerful scrum to good effect. To their credit though, they refused to give up and it was only a matter of time for their dominating scrum to deliver points, which it did when No 8 Francke Horn had the simple task of dotting down.

That signaled a huge swing in momentum to the visiting side, and they scored two more tries, first through Hendrikse and then No 6 flank Sangweni Sibusiso. When Hendrikse raised the flags with his mid-ranged penalty kick, the visiting team was now trailing by just one point at 38-37 and less than five minutes to go.

Then followed that strange play, when Odendaal passed to Kriel behind the Lions goal line for a try which broke the Lions’ resistance.

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BULLS V LIONS

SCORERS:

Bull’s

Tries: Lizo Gqoboka, Bismarck du Plessis, David Kriel, Janko Swanepoel, Stedman Gans, Richard Kriel

Conversions: Juan Mostert (4), Keagan Johannes

Penalty: Johannes

Lions

Tries: Ruben Schoeman, Burger Odendaal, Francke Horn, Jordon Hendrikse, Sangweni Sibusiso

Conversions Jordan Hendrikse (3)

Penalties: Hendrikse (2)

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