The Blues ended their South African sojourn with a 56-14 victory over the useless Lions in Johannesburg.
Dick Muir’s Lions are officially the worst side ever to play Super Rugby as they now hold the record for 12 consecutive defeats in one season (‘beating’ the Bulls’ previous record of 11 losses in 2002). Not surprisingly, their game-plan, defence, handling and error count befitted a side with that tag.
It showed as the ease with which the Blues scored the first try was laughable. Benson Stanley beat a poor tackle from Wikus van Heerden and offloaded to a supporting Rene Ranger, who finished under the poles.
The Lions’ approach suited the Blues as their typically frantic game loosened up the match. In the opening 20 minutes they took quick taps, and then from an ensuing lineout Herkie Kruger went for a drop goal. That typified the confusion in the side: if the original goal was three points, why not take the shot at goal in front of the poles from the penalty?
Stephen Brett – who was under an injury cloud before the game – ghosted over as the Blues again benefited from non-existent defence to bolt into a 17-0 lead after 30 minutes. As they have done for most of the season, the Lions had the majority of possession, but couldn’t capitalise on their opportunities.
In a match lacking intensity and quality, the Blues’ poor kicking handed the Lions a counter-attacking opportunity from 75m out. The Lions took full advantage, Carlos Spencer continuing his good form as he was on hand to take the final pass. That was a rare positive for the hosts, but again it was the way they gifted the Blues their third try that was told the tale of a dreadful season. The visitors were battling to make ground, but Alby Mathewson sniped through.
There weren’t many fans at Ellis Park, but a few of those poor souls who were there lost patience and left before the first half had been completed. You couldn’t blame them, as there wasn’t much to inspire hope from Muir’s charges.
Spencer claimed his brace just before the half-time siren to narrow the gap to 10. It hardly mattered, as there was no way the Lions were going to win their first game of the season. Brett added a penalty, and Paul Williams got the bonus point try. This was the eighth time the Lions have conceded five log points in 2010.
Spencer’s otherwise good afternoon turned bad when ref Mark Lawrence adjudged that he had tripped a Blues player, his sin binning serving to further deplete the Lions’ defence as they conceded 14 points in 10 minutes. Hooker Tom McCartney flopped over in the corner, and Joe Rokocoko added his name to the score sheet.
The Lions are off to Welkom for their final fixture against the Cheetahs. If Saru has any courage or decision-making ability, that will be the Lions’ last match as a Super Rugby franchise.
By Grant Ball