Lions de­mol­ish woe­ful Sun­wolves

In a day of great rugby, Ja­pan fails as lo­cals run riot on the score­board at El­lis Park, while, in Bloem­fontein, the Storm­ers out­play hap­less Chee­tahs

CityPress - - Sport - by Sports24 SIMNIKIWE XABANISA sports@city­press.co.za – Ad­di­tional re­port­ing

The Lions pro­duced a master class of at­tack­ing rugby last night as they de­mol­ished the Sun­wolves, fin­ish­ing on 947 at El­lis Park. As ex­pected, this was a one-sided af­fair and the Lions were in con­trol of pro­ceed­ings from start to fin­ish – they even­tu­ally outscored their hap­less vis­i­tors by 14 tries to one.

The win con­sol­i­dates the Lions’ po­si­tion at the top of the Africa Con­fer­ence 2 stand­ings, where they are 19 points clear of their near­est ri­vals, the Sharks, while the Sun­wolves are still lan­guish­ing at the bot­tom of the Africa Con­fer­ence 1 ta­ble, with just one vic­tory from 13 matches.

Mean­while, a re­vamped Storm­ers team won what started as a loose game against the Chee­tahs and fin­ished a touch on the ill-tem­pered side to cement their lead in the Su­per Rugby Africa Con­fer­ence 1.

The vis­i­tors outscored the hosts by six tries to four in a game in which both sides had their lapses in con­cen­tra­tion, de­fence and dis­ci­pline, with a card count of five by the end of the game.

The two red cards – to flankers Ryn­hardt El­stadt and Henco Ven­ter – were for an el­bow­ing clash at the con­clu­sion of the game, the lat­ter a straight send­ing off for strik­ing and the for­mer a yel­low for re­tal­i­at­ing, mean­ing El­stadt was also sent off be­cause it was his se­cond cau­tion.

A sign of how the Chee­tahs were not at the races at the be­gin­ning of the match is how the Storm­ers, who were es­sen­tially dis­jointed from the changes they’d made, scored pretty much at will in the first half.

The Cape Town side had rested Spring­boks Siya Kolisi and Eben Etze­beth go­ing into the match, and had given SA Un­der-20 player Damian Willemse his first start at fly half. The knock-on ef­fect was that full­back SP Marais was in charge of the goal kick­ing. But when he was hob­bled by a knee in­jury in the 17th minute, winger Dil­lyn Leyds was moved to full­back and the kick­ing du­ties were passed on to winger Ch­es­lin Kolbe.

Yet with Leyds and rookie Willemse shar­ing the stand­off du­ties, the Chee­tahs still con­ceded points at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals. This was thanks largely to a leaky de­fence, illd­is­ci­pline and sloppy mis­takes with ball in hand.

Fly half Niel Marais’ sin-bin­ning in the 26th minute meant points con­ceded, while full­back Clay­ton Blom­metjies gifted re­place­ment Se­abelo Se­natla his try with a no-look re­verse pass that found him per­fectly.

Dur­ing that time, Kolbe – en­joy­ing his new­found kick­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties – cashed in by rak­ing in the points. As ever, he was alert and ra­zor sharp with his fin­ish­ing, and grabbed a hat-trick of tries.

Where he surprised was how re­li­able he was with the boot, miss­ing just one of his five con­ver­sion at­tempts for a points haul of 25 from the match.

But the Storm­ers would re­spond in kind to the Chee­tahs’ largesse by also play­ing fast and loose in the se­cond half. First they fol­lowed flanker El­stadt’s late sin­bin­ning in the first half with an­other by Pi­eter-Steph du Toit for a high tackle in the 55th minute, which opened the door for the Chee­tahs.

With Du Toit lan­guish­ing in the cooler, Clin­ton Swart dis­played in­cred­i­ble strength in scor­ing the first of two tries while the hosts had a man up on the vis­i­tors, with Bok winger Ray­mond Rhule the ben­e­fi­ciary of a won­der­ful solo run by his captain Fran­cois Ven­ter.

Sud­denly the Chee­tahs had clawed them­selves into a one-point lead, but the Storm­ers tight­ened their game up just long enough in the last 10 min­utes with a try by re­place­ment Sikhum­buzo Not­she.

PHOTO: LEE WAR­REN / GALLO IMAGES

NOWHERE TO RUN Syl­vian Mahuza of the Lions is tack­led by Takaaki Nakazuru of the Sun­wolves dur­ing their Su­per Rugby match in Jo­han­nes­burg yes­ter­day

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