The Golden Lions bounced back from their disappointing opening day loss to beat the Blue Bulls 23-20 in their second outing on Wednesday.
And they did it despite playing with 14 men for just about half of the game, having had three yellow cards awarded against them. Lions loose forwards Tiaan McDonald and Ruan Steenkamp, and lock Ruan Venter can take much of the credit for their first win of the week, after the Lions went down to Western Province on Monday.
The trio created a number of turnovers and were solid in defence, particularly while their side was one man down. Others to shine up front were prop Gideon Muller, and replacement lock Fabian Booysen.
Booysen came on after just 20 minutes when giant second-rower Paul Willemse was stretchered off with what looked like a serious knee injury. Lions captain and flyhalf Marais Schmidt regained his place kicking form and his tactical kicking was also sound. Centre Jaco Viljoen and wing Chad de Klerk put in some dangerous runs.
For the Bulls lock Schalk van Heerden got through a lot of work and hooker Timothy Nhlapo showed up well, but on the whole the forwards were disappointing and never created enough chances for their backs.
The Bulls were first on the board via a try by scrumhalf Poerie van Rooyen, converted by flyhalf Tony Jantjies. The Lions replied through a try by prop Muller, converted by Schmidt before Jantjies slotted the first drop goal of the week and added a penalty to put his side ahead.
Booysen crossed over just before half time for a try converted by Schmidt to put the Lions 17-13 up at the break. Schmidt added two second half penalties to make it 23-13 and he then proceeded to strangle the Bulls out of the game with some judicious kicking.
Nhlapo scored a try for the Bulls in injury time to give the score some respectability.
By Gauteng correspondent