The Lions consolidated their lead at the top of the South African Group by beating the Jaguares 52-24 in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Lions outscored Argentina’s Jaguares by eight tries to two in a one sided victory in which the Jaguares missed 28 tackles compared to the Lions 12.
The Lions victory is their seventh from ten matches and the Jaguares eighth loss from ten matches,.
The Jaguares remain in 15th place overall and the result keeps the Lions in second place overall and on track for a home play-off.
Wings Courtnall Skosan and Ruan Combrinck both grabbed braces against a limp Jaguares defence as coach Johan Ackermann’s team increased their lead to seven points over the Sharks in Africa Conference 2.
The Lions made a fantastic start to the game when a turnover from loosehead prop Corné Fourie saw impressive inside centre Howard Mnisi cut the Jaguares’ defensive line from inside his own half.
The ball was worked out wide, and flank Cyle Brink pulled off a Sonny Bill Williams-type offload in the tackle to put Courtnall Skosan over as early as the third minute.
Jaguares flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez actually put the visitors into the lead with two quick penalties as Lions opposite number Elton Jantjies missed the conversion and a penalty at goal.
Jantjies was outstanding in general play as usual, pulling the strings for the Lions on attack by taking on the advantage line and clearing his lines with the boot. He also broke through the Jaguares defence, as did Mnisi and captain Warren Whiteley, but the Lions were unable to capitalise on those opportunities.
It was blockbusting outside centre Lionel Mapoe who showed his teammates how it is done when he spun the ball wide from a Lions lineout steal on their own 22, with hard-running fullback Jaco van der Walt flying down the touchline.
Van der Walt had the skill to offload in the tackle as well to find Mapoe, who sped past the first defender and held off another for a superb touchdown.
Jantjies’ goal-kicking woes continued as he missed a long-range penalty from close to the half-way, his second miss out of three, while Sanchez pulled one back to take the score to 12-9 before halftime.
But the Lions’ forwards were taking full control in the tight exchanges, with the industrious Brink, hooker Akker van der Merwe and Whiteley prominent. And it was Brink and Van der Merwe who surged forward just before the break, and the ball was recycled to lock Lourens Erasmus, who jogged over almost untouched.
That virtually ended the Jaguares’ challenge, as they seldom looked like scoring a try. The home team took just four minutes to extend their lead in the second half when Jantjies danced around a few tacklers and offloaded to Brink, who scored a well-deserved try.
Right wing Combrinck took over the goal-kicking from Jantjies, but wasn’t too successful either. The former Western Province junior player was a revelation on attack, though, scoring two tries and setting up Jaco Kriel’s five-pointer with a long pass to Sylvian Mahuza.
Sanchez and Gonzalo Bertranou got consolation tries in the last quarter, but a late Skosan effort finished things off in style for the men from Johannesburg.
Next week the Lions travel across the Jukskei River as they play the Bulls in Pretoria. The Jaguares fly to Port Elizabeth as they play the Southern Kings.
Final Score Lions 52 (19) Jaguares 24 (9)
Tries – C.Skosan 2, L.Mapoe, L.Erasmus, C.Brink, J.Kriel, R.Combrinck 2
Pen – R.Combrinck 2
Con – E.Jantjies 2, R.Combrinck
Tries -N.Sanchez, G.Bertranou
Pen – N.Sanchez 4
Con – Iglesias
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant Ref 1:Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Ref 2:Lourens van der Merwe
TMO : Willie Vos
Corne Fourie , Armand van der Merwe , Julian Redelinghuys , Lourens Erasmus , Franco Mostert , Jaco Kriel , Cyle Brink , Warren Whiteley , Faf de Klerk , Elton Jantjies , Courtnall Skosan , Howard Mnisi , Lionel Mapoe , Ruan Combrinck , Jaco van der Walt
Replacements : Malcolm Marx , Dylan Smith , Jacques van Rooyen , Ruan Ackermann , Warwick Tecklenburg , Ross Cronje , Rohan Janse van Rensburg , Sylvian Mahuza
1. Santiago García Botta, 2.Julián Montoya , 3. Ramiro Herrera , 4. Matías Alemanno , 5.Tomás Lavanini , 6. Pablo Matera, 7.Tomás Lezana, 8. Facundo Isa , 9.Martín Landajo , 10.Nicolás Sánchez ,11. Lucas González Amorosino , 12.Matías Orlando, 13.Juan Martin Hernandez, 14. Emiliano Boffelli, 15. Joaquín Tuculet y Segundo Tuculet.
Replacements : Facundo Bosch, Facundo Gigena, 18. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro 19.Guido Petti ,20. Javier Ortega Desio, 21.Gonzalo Bertranou, 22.Santiago González Iglesias 23.Ramiro Moyano