The Lions broke records at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg when they lost 56-14 to the touring Blues from Auckland. they were not records to cause rejoicing.
It was the Lions’ 12th defeat in succession this season – the first team in Super rugby to lose 12 in a row in a single season. They also lost their last match last season, bringing their string of defeats to 13. They also became the team that has had most points against them in a season.
The first half was reasonable but in the second half the Lions conceded 32 points without getting any themselves. It was not that they were not willing and did not have opportunities but even when they were close to the Blues’ line it did not really seem that they would score. Where the Blues looked like well-organised professionals, the Lions looked like a willing pick-up team. They do not look a team worthy of playing Super 14 rugby.
That said, they actually had the better of territory. The difference was that whenever the Blues got into attacking positions, they scored. They did not have to do much to score – no phases or patience. All they needed to do was go and score.
The Lions were willing. They wanted to score tries, and so they tapped and ran at every opportunity, only once aiming a penalty at goal.
The Blues very first try wrote the sign on the wall. The ball went to Benson Stanley who simply ran straight ahead, straight pasts Spencer to score. 7-0 after 4 minutes. Stephen Brett, who was told just 20 minutes before the match that he would start instead of Daniel Kirkpatrick, did much the same as he ran past Gert Muller. 14-0 after 16 minutes.
Penalties gave the Lions two five-metre line-outs. The first they lost and for the second Herkie Kruger attempted a drop which came back off an upright from close in. Then the Lions scored a splendid try and they did it from a long way out. It was Spencer’s idea but Tonderai Chavhanga’s legs which made it. They counterattacked from inside their own 22 with a fast, sinuous run by Chavhanga who had a splendid game. They went down the right through several pairs of hands till Spencer, one-handed, plucked a lobbed pass out of the air to go over for a try. 17-7 after 31 minutes.
Stanley broke again to bring the Blues in range and Albie Mathewson raced past Wikus van Heerden and George Earl to score at the posts. 24-7 after 36 minutes.
From a scrum the Lions attacked on the left and then on the right and then wide left with some clever passing by Cobus Grobbelaar and Chavhanga. Spencer stepped neatly inside Isaia Toeava to score far out. Kruger converted. Half-time came with the score 24-14. That looked deceptively like a contest.
In the second half Brett kicked a penalty goal and then they got close again for Paul Williams to score an easy try. 34-14 after 48 minutes and a bonus point was in the bag.
Brett goaled a penalty after Deon van Rensburg was penalised for an intentional knock-on and then things became worse for the Lions.
They attacked down the tight in their most promising attack of the half with Grobbelaar leading the attack, only to be called back because Spencer was deemed to have tripped an opponent and was sent to the sin bin.
Toeava made the running and hooker Tom McCartney scored. The Blues went through phases and Van Rensburg missed Rokocoko, who scored. (This was the only kick at goal Brett missed.) Then the Blues won a turnover, Kruger missed Rokocoko who jogged some 40 metres to score. 56-14 with 13 minutes to play.
The Lions did get close at time as penalties gave them position but their bashing was unproductive and when they left the forwards their attacks went backward.
Man of the Match: Stephen Brett who ran, tackled and kicked splendidly.
Tries: Spencer 2
Cons: Kruger 2
Tries: Ranger, Brett, Mathewson, Williams, McCartney, Rokocoko 2
Cons: Brett 6
Pens: Brett 3
Yellow card: Carlos Spencer (Lions) – tripping an opponent
Lions: 15 Carlos Spencer, 14 Michael Killian, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Walter Venter, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Herkie Kruger, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Derick Minnie, 7 Wikus van Heerden, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 George Earl, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 3 Gert Muller 2 Charles Emslie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Hannes Franklin, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Nico Luus, 19 Justin Wheeler, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Jaco Taute, 22 Bernardo Botha.
Blues: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Paul Williams, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Serge Lilo, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Anthony Boric, 4 Kurtis Haiu, 3 John Afoa, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Tevita Mailau, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Filo Paulo, 19 Viliami Ma’afu, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 /Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Anthony Tuitavake.
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Reuben Rossouw (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Article Courtesy of Rugby 365Tweet