The Lions ran riot against the Sunwolves, thrashing them 94-7 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, winning their conference in the process.
The home team scored 14 tries with Ruan Combrinck getting a hat-trick and kicking five conversions for a 25-point haul.Kwagga Smith and Jaco Kriel scored a brace.
Elton Jantijies scored a try as well and kicked six conversions for a tally of 17 points.
Kwagga Smith and Jaco Kriel scored a brace and there were tries for Ross Cronjé, Armand van der Merwe, Courtnall Skosan, Faf de Klerk, Sylvian Mahuza and Ruan Ackermann.
The Lions led 35-0 at the break, but put their foot down in the second-half, making 1068 metres, yes.
The Japanese wilted in the altitude of the Highveld, missing 53 of 108 tackles. The scrum was dismantled early on and the visitors were never in it, losing by 87 points.
This was a massacre of epic proportions; the home side dominated every facet of play, scoring at will as the Japanese players fell off tackles too easily.
Kriel’s first try saw eight players fall off the flanker, while in the second-half, after Jantjies left the field, De Klerk, who is a scrumhalf, ran the show at first receiver.
The No 9 set up several tries, finding space in the channels, throwing long skip passes to the outside backs to score and his eye for a gap was magic.
Within half an hour, the Sunwolves’ coaching staff had to substitute their starting props Yasuo Yamaji and Matasaka Mikami because they were no match for the Lions’ pack.
It did not make a difference what the visitors did, they were outclassed. The Lions mauled them at the lineout too, winning three of their throws to add to their three scrums where they were bulldozed.
The Lions could only beat what was in front of them as they chase a chance at redemption after losing last season’s Super Rugby final.
One question remains: how did the Bulls lose to the Sunwolves?
Final Score: Lions 94 (35) Sunwolves 7 (0)
Tries – Cronjé, Kriel (2), Smith (2), Jantjies, Van der Merwe, Combrinck (3), Skosan, De Klerk, Mahuza, Ackermann
Con – Jantjies (6), Combrinck (5), De Klerk
Tries – Helu
Con – Ogura
Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant Ref 1: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 2: Archie Sehlako
TMO: Johan Greeff
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Albertus Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Francois Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Francois de Klerk, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.
15 Yasutaka Sasakura, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Ryohei Yamanaka, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Teruya Goto, 10 Jumpei Ogura, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willem Britz (captain), 7 Shokei Kin, 6 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5 Kotaro Yatabe, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Matasaka Mikami.
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Malgene Ilaua, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Rikiya Matshuda, 23 Kotaro Mathushima