Rainbow Cup

Bulls overcome own waywardness, Lions resistance to win Rainbow Cup opener

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Livewire Lions centre Wandisile Simelane gave the Bulls defence problems. (Photo by Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images)
Livewire Lions centre Wandisile Simelane gave the Bulls defence problems. (Photo by Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images)

The Bulls overcame a spirited, if flawed, resistance from the Lions as well as their own waywardness to win their Rainbow Cup SA opener by 22-9 at Loftus on Saturday night.

By all accounts, the result would've been sewn up far earlier had the hosts not had three tries disallowed following TMO intervention.

Lock Janko Swanepoel's muscular drive over the line in the latter stages of the first half was nullified by a knock-on at a previous ruck by scrumhalf Embrose Papier, while a try for wing Stravino Jacobs was wiped out by obstruction from the forwards at a line-out maul after they changed the contact point.

However, the cherry on top was the denial of fellow winger Madosh Tambwe's five-pointer from a skilful Morne Steyn cross-kick because Lions captain and midfielder, Dan Kriel, had the presence of mind to use his captain's call to point out a skew throw from another set-piece.

It was such an obvious indiscretion that one had to wonder how referee Rasta Rasivenghe missed it.

Nonetheless, he deserved credit for his diligence on the previous occasions.

As a spectacle, this was a match to forget. The Bulls threatened to overwhelm their inexperienced opponents when flyhalf Chris Smith brilliantly changed his angle on attack as well as a poor one-on-one tackle to score in the third minute.

Unexpectedly, it galvanised the Lions, who played the territorial game well and tried gamely to put a solid Bulls defence under pressure.

While that industry brought two Fred Zeilinga penalties, who was solid if unspectacular on debut at pivot, there was precious little rhythm and punching power from their attack.

It meant that they were never able to catch up to a Bulls side whose handling, particularly in the tackle situation, was frustratingly suspect.   

Replacement fullback EW Viljoen's yellow card for a deliberate knockdown, perhaps unsurprisingly, proved the straw that broke the camel's back. 

Zak Burger, who replaced a butterfingered Papier at halfback, was the beneficiary of some quick thinking from a line-out and a fine off-load to establish the match-winning buffer.

The final moments continued to be a seesawing territorial affair before play broke up sufficiently for Elrigh Louw, who was industrious on the blindside for the hosts, to barge over the line and inflate a scoreline that, in all honesty, should've been more comprehensive.

Point scorers:

Bulls - (10) 22

Tries: Chris Smith, Zak Burger, Elrigh Louw

Conversions: Smith, Morne Steyn

Penalty: Smith

Lions - (6) 9

Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (3)

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