By Ken Borland
PRETORIA, July 14 (Reuters) – The Bulls raised their game in
the second half to beat struggling neighbours the Lions 37-20 in
their Super Rugby match on Saturday and qualify for a playoff
against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
The three-time champions struggled in the first half, which
ended with the scores level 20-20, but rallied to score two
tries in the first 10 minutes of the second to set up victory
and clinch fifth place in the final standings.
The Lions, with relegation from Super Rugby hanging over
their heads, came out roaring for their possible last
appearance, dominating the Bulls in the scrums and breaking
But they were once again frustrated by the errors that have
characterised their campaign, Bulls wing Akona Ndungane taking
advantage of flatfooted passing down the backline to intercept
and score the opening try in the 16th minute.
Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies kicked two penalties to keep
the visitors in touch at 6-10 down until the half-hour, when
their defence failed, two men going for Bulls scrumhalf Francois
Hougaard as he darted from the base of a five-metre scrum,
allowing wing Bjorn Basson to burst through a huge gap and
The Lions were trailing 6-17, but they bounced back superbly
as tenacious scrumhalf Michael Bondesio ran straight through
Bulls flyhalf Morne Steyn to score from a five-metre scrum and,
although the visitors then presented Steyn with an easy penalty
after a ruck infringement, an excellent dash down the left
touchline by wing Anthony Volmink gave the Lions a lineout feed
five metres from the tryline.
The Lions had struggled to secure their own lineout ball
throughout the first half, but this time lock Hendrik Roodt took
the ball and captain Josh Strauss was at the front of the drive
over the line.
Jantjies converted the try from the touchline to draw the
Lions level and leave the Bulls needing a much-improved second
half to keep their campaign alive.