The Lions’ winning run in Vodacom Super Rugby came to a crashing halt as they suffered a 35-33 loss to local rivals the Bulls in a thrilling derby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. The hosts got the opening points of the match through a Piet Van Zyl try as the scrumhalf finished off a great attacking move which began in the hosts’ own half. However Handre Pollard failed to score the conversion. Brilliant running from the home players had Van Zyl over the line again to double his try tally, as he collected Jan Serfontein’s pass and powered through a tackle to score what was a well-worked team try.
Pollard made no mistake this time around as he converted the extras. The visitors replied with a converted try of their own through Francois De Klerk, with the score 12-7 after 13 minutes played. Pollard and Elton Jantjies exchanged penalties before JJ Engelbrecht scored the Bulls third try of the match, with Pollard slotting the extras to extend the home side’s lead.
Jantjies slotted away his second penalty to reduce the deficit as the Frans Ludeke’s team held a 25-13 lead after an electrifying first half at Loftus. Johan Ackermann’s men scored the first points of the second half through two penalties from Jantjies before Jacques Van Rooyen barged over the line to score his first Super Rugby try for the Johannesburg side. Jantjies stepped up and put away the conversion to give his team the lead.
Ackermann’s men were running rampant but the Bulls managed to sustain attacking pressure and regained the lead as Pierre Spies’ quick thinking resulted in a converted try and a bonus point for the hosts before Pollard’s 67th minute penalty extended their lead. The visitors refused to throw in the towel and were back in it after Jaco Kriel went over the line for the try. Jantjies kicked the sundries with just seconds left to play but Frans Ludeke’s charges held on for the vital win.