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- Super Rugby
- Overall Group
- 1st Mar 2014
- KO 15:05
- Ground: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Super Rugby: Bulls beat Lions to open their account
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The Bulls eased past the Lions 25-17 despite poor weather to record their first Super Rugby victory of 2014 at Loftus Versfeld.
A try from centre Jan Serfontein and 20 points from the boot of fly-half Jacques-Louis Potgieter ensured the hosts claimed an important win.
Frans Ludeke fielded eight Springboks in his starting XV, with Victor Matfield making his 127th Super Rugby appearance - a record for a South African player.
Potgieter opened the scoring early on, banging over a long-range penalty after the visitors entered a maul from the side, and added a second two minutes later when the Lions strayed offside again.
But the hosts shot themselves in the foot straight from the kick-off; full-back Jurgen Visser gathered the restart cleanly, but dallied on the ball, and his attempted clearance was charged down by the onrushing Stephan Watermeyer.
The centre calmly followed up and grounded for the game's opening try. Fly-half Marnitz Boshoff converted without trouble.
The Bulls came roaring back to regain the lead ten minutes later. A turnover yielded quick ball for Ludeke's men, and with the Lions defence in disarray, play was smartly spread wide to Bjorn Basson.
Basson burned his way down the left touchline, before drawing the cover defence and releasing Serfontein to crash over unchallenged. Potgieter added the extras to restore the hosts' six-point cushion.
Boshoff and Potgieter exchanged three-pointers in the final ten minutes of the half; the Lions pivot's effort cancelled out by a booming 40-metre drop-goal and a close-range penalty from his opposite number, before Boshoff struck the post with practically the final kick of first forty minutes.
The rugby grew scrappier and the play more conservative after the break as both teams tired.
It was another 21 minutes before the scoreboard operators were called into action, Potgieter slotting penalty number four, and forcing the Lions to overcome a 12-point deficit.
That kick did seem to stir the Lions into life as the substitutes began to roll on and off, but they were blighted by their own imprecision and indiscipline.
The added power from the Bulls bench turned the tables in the scrummage - an area the visitors had edged in the first half - and the buckling Lions front-row allowed Potgieter to kill things off with another penalty on 74 minutes.
Johan Ackermann's men tried manfully to fight back and claim a losing bonus point, and they did manage a consolation score courtesy of another Bulls charge-down error.
Matfield stole a Lions lineout ten metres from his own line, but after Francois Hougaard recovered possession; he hammered his attempted touch-finder straight into the face of Willie Wepener; the substitute managing to flop on the loose ball in the in-goal area.
The hooker will no doubt be nursing a sore head this evening, but Boshoff landed the touchline conversion to leave his side eight points behind.
In spite of a frantic final minute down in Lions territory, neither side could add to the scoreline, and the Bulls finally got off the mark for their 2014 Super Rugby campaign.
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|Friday 13th February|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Reds|
|17:10||Lions vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 14th February|
|06:35||Blues vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Sharks vs Cheetahs|
|17:05||Bulls vs Stormers|
|Sunday 15th February|
|06:05||Waratahs vs Western Force|
|Friday 20th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Brumbies|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs|
|17:10||Bulls vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 21st February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Reds vs Western Force|
|15:05||Stormers vs Blues|
|17:10||Sharks vs Lions|
|Friday 27th February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Reds|
|11:00||Western Force vs Hurricanes|
|17:10||Cheetahs vs Blues|
|Saturday 28th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies|
|15:05||Bulls vs Sharks|
|17:10||Lions vs Stormers|
|Friday 6th March|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Highlanders|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Western Force|
|Saturday 7th March|
|06:35||Blues vs Lions|
|08:40||Reds vs Waratahs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com