The Bulls beat the Lions 25-30 in a tight, tense Super Rugby Unlocked contest at Ellis Park, Johannesburg.
Elton Jantjies kicked a penalty after the hooter to earn the Lions a losing bonus-point after a tight, tense South African derby at the famous old ground.
The deserved win pushes the Bulls six points clear of the Stormers and Sharks at the top of the Super Rugby Unlocked table.
The high-flying Bulls edged the Jukskei Derby despite the two sides sharing three tries apiece.
It was the boot of the metronomic Morné Steyn, who converted all three tries and added two penalties for 12 important points. His boot made all the difference.
Elton Jantjies added two penalties and two conversions of his own but the flyhalf’s intercepted pass that led to Stedman Gans’ 10 minutes after the break, made the difference.
The Lions led by two at that point but never recovered from the error as the Bulls stomped on the Joburg men.
Joe van Zyl and Kurt-Lee Arendse also dotted down for the Bulls either side of Gans.
Burger Odendaal, Morné van den Berg and the wonderful Wandisile Simelane crossed for the hosts.
Bulls start strong, making Lions pay for wastefulness and sloppiness
The Bulls dominated the first half, taking a 3-10 lead after Jantjies’ third-minute penalty put the Lions on the board.
Steyn levelled four minutes later from in front.
On 14 minutes, late call-up replacement hooker Van Zyl flopped over the chalk after a bulldozing driving maul by the Bulls forwards. Steyn added the extras.
Super Rugby Unlocked Video Highlights: Lions v Bulls at Ellis Park, Johannesburg
The Bulls had the better of both the territory (62%) and possession (78%). Ivan van Zyl’s men could not get any decent attacks going because of poor handling and lineout malfunctions.
But the Lions started to find their rhythm just as their opponent’s set-pieces began to falter.
Eventually, after their first sustained period of attack, the home team scored.
The try came after several pick-and drives before the ball was sent wide to Odendaal, on the wing, who slid over the whitewash in the corner.
Gianni Lombard, instead of Jantjies, took the touchline conversion but his kick shaved the left-hand post.
A minute before halftime, and after several penaltyies and driving mauls, Van den Berg darted over to put the home team ahead.
Jantjies, back on kicking duties, added the extras and his side went into the shed with a 15-10 advantage.
The Bulls went up a gear after the break; the Lions imploded as the penalties mounted
Jake White’s men came out firing after the break, scoring 10 unanswered points as Van Zyl’s forwards struggled. It could have been more but for a disallowed try.
The Bulls changed their props due to injuries and immediately won a penalty from a scrum inside the Lions’ 22.
Steyn made no mistake, cutting the deficit to two points four minutes after the restart.
Ruben Schoeman, who gave away two penalties that led to the Bulls’ converted try in the first half gave away another for offsides.
It allowed the visitors to kick to the corner. The away pack drove over the line, but the score was not awarded because of Marco van Staden’s knock-on in the act of grounding.
The Lions almost got away with one, but their cavalier attitude to attacking rugby cost them seven points.
Steyn went to the corner again, the Bulls lost their throw; however, Gans pick-pocketed Jantjies’ loose pass and scored next to the posts. Steyn added the extras.
The pressure continued to mount as the Bulls forwards dismantled the Lions pack. Another penalty was kicked to the corner, this time from a big scrum.
Duane Vermeulen opted to take the points, which Steyn duly did to open up a two-score lead at the hour mark.
The Bulls defended their line from two lineout driving mauls, but they could not stop the new sensation.
Simelane carved them to pieces after a counter-attack from deep inside the Lions’ half saw the Lions send the ball wide to the outside centre.
Jantjies cut the gap to one with 12 minutes remaining. However, White’s men hit back.
Arendse, finding himself on the wing, put on the afterburners to beat the cover defenders to increase the lead.
Steyn, flawless from the tee, took it back to a two-score game with less than eight to play.
Van Zyl’s men did not give up and went in search of a losing bonus-point. They got their shot after the hooter, which Jantjies knocked over.
Final Score: Lions 25 (15) Bulls 30 (10)
Tries – Odendaal, Van den Berg, Simelane
Pen – E. Jantjies (2)
Con – E. Jantjies (2)
Tries – J. Van Zyl, Gans, Arendse
Pen – Steyn (2)
Con – Steyn (3)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 1: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Ref 2: Egon Seconds
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen
15 Gianni Lombard; 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Courtnall Skosan; 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morné van den Berg; 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 MJ Pelser, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole
Replacements: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Dan Kriel, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel
15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2. Joe van Zyl, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Replacements: 16 Els, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren