John Mametsa scored a hat-trick in a hard fought 25-11 win for the Bulls over Gauteng rivals the Lions.
The winger, who recently return from a lengthy injury lay-off, finished well and worked tirelessly in attack and defence, including making a try saving tackle late in the game.
After their loss against Griquas last week, the Bulls would have settled for an ugly win and that’s exactly what they achieved, although they’ll know they will need to make improvements before the next game.
But considering that a number of injuries and Bok call-ups have depleted their squad, coach Pote Human will be relatively pleased.
The Lions seemed shell shocked by the enterprising manner in which the Bulls started the match, particularly given that it was widely expected that the hosts would keep the ball amongst the heavies.
However their back division attacked from depth and showed innovative and creative touches to cut through the Lions defence.
Their first try came from a backline move which had drifted right then left before John Mametsa drove over in the corner.
The winger was on hand to round off another move at the end of the first quarter, as the Bulls looked to punish the Gauteng rival’s errors. A Jacques-Louis Potgieter midfield linebreak was central to the score, but the classy handling as the ball traveled down the line to Mametsa has to be lauded.
That fundamental skill was sorely lacking against Griquas last week, as was the ability to generate any go-forward around the ruck fringe, which they did superbly this evening. That collision dominance and support play ensured continuity that the Lions simply could not match defensively early on.
Yet for all the Bulls’ dominance, a Ryno Benjamin try, birthed from a turnover, seemed to shake the Lions out of their lethargy. They improved their tackle fight and as a result were able to cope better on defence. That forced the Bulls into a series of poorly executed kicks, which simply allowed the Lions to clear their lines or launch counterattacks.
Jano Vermaak drew them within four points with a penalty before the Bulls again camped in the Lions half, but without reward.
In much the same way they had done against the Sharks a week ago, the Lions survived on scraps and would have been delighted to go into the break four points adrift at 12-8.
The ghosts of Kimberley seemed to be haunting the Bulls as they routinely botched good scoring opportunities (including knocking on over the tryline) or turning over possession after laying a solid platform for a backline attack.
The Lions grew in confidence and the momentum began to shift their way. Captain Ernst Joubert and No 8 Willem Alberts fronted their charge with powerful ball carries. Vermaak sunk another three pointer to make it a one point game, but prop Brian Mujati made their task more arduous by getting himself sin binned for repeated ruck offences.
The Bulls made them pay, with Mametsa crossing for his hattrick after a blindside move off a ruck. Steyn added the extras then goaled a penalty to give his side some breathing room at 25-11.
The Lions launched a series of exapansive attacks but the Bulls defence remained impenetrable, and made a number of turnovers in their own 22m area to hold out for the win.
Bulls – Try: John Mametsa (3) Conversion: Morne Steyn (2) Penalty: Steyn (2)
Lions – Try: Ryno Benjamin Penalty: Jano Vermaak (2)