Lions 51-14 Bulls: Ruan Combrinck makes tryscoring return
Last Updated: 20/05/17 8:56pm
Springbok Ruan Combrinck made a two-try comeback as Lions thrashed South African rivals the Bulls 51-14 in chilly Johannesburg.
Making his first appearance of the four-month-old season after an injury, the winger scored after 72 seconds and the home side led 39-14 by half-time.
But after a first half that produced 53 points at Ellis Park, the second half was an anti-climax with only two tries, and the second came six seconds from time.
The Lions' bonus-point win cut the gap behind overall leaders Crusaders to three points. The Crusaders have won all 12 matches while the Lions' lone loss was away to Los Jaguares in March with a weakened side.
Both the New Zealanders and the South Africans have three league fixtures left with the Lions schedule looking slightly easier.
Topping the combined standings gives a team home advantage in each knockout match they play.
While Lions seem destined to finish second overall at least, three-time Super Rugby champions Bulls are a pale shadow of former Pretoria outfits.
After Combrinck got his team off to the perfect start, Bulls levelled soon after when a clever inside pass sent centre Jan Serfontein over.
It was a short respite, though, as two penalties from fly-half Elton Jantjies gave Lions a 13-7 lead by the end of the first quarter and then the floodgates opened.
Combrinck (two), Smith, prop Ruan Dreyer, No. 8 and skipper Warren Whiteley, lock Franco Mostert and centre Lionel Mapoe were the Lions try scorers.
Jantjies, the probable Springboks fly-half against France next month, slotted five conversions and two penalties from nine kicks at goal.
Serfontein and full-back Jesse Kriel scored tries for Bulls, both of which fly-half Francois Brummer converted.