The Emirates Lions produced a scintillating first half of power play, but then shut up shop as they coasted home in the second half 42-19 against the Southern Kings in their Vodacom Super Rugby match in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The Lions led 35-12 at the break, but looked out of touch and lethargic in the second half, as if they were going through the motions, as the Kings became more confident and played some good rugby in that period to show they were more than competitive in the game.
In the end Madosh Tambwe scored a brace, and his side outscored the Kings six tries to three, as they coasted to the bonus point win to keep them on track at the top of their conference.
Still, the game was highly entertaining, with two tries in the opening three minutes, before the Lions took control of the game and built up a significant lead that was enough to see them home.
Built on strong performances by their scrum, and in particular flanker Jaco Kriel, lock Franco Mostert and hooker Malcolm Marx, the Lions forwards were unmatched, while the Kings unearthed a handful of players once again who made an indelible impression, including Andisisa Ntsila and winger Yaw Penxe, while fullback Malcolm Jaer and flanker Chris Cloete were impressive throughout.
The Kings struck first as Ntsila charged down the clearance kick of Andries Coetzee, gathered and went over in the opening minute of the game, but the Kings were their own worst enemies two minutes later when they threw a suicide pass into the hands of Tambwe on their own line, with the winger accepting the try with ease.
The Lions rolling maul was unstoppable in the 10th minute, with hooker Marx at the back having the simplest of tries, and they added another try four minutes later when they stretched the defence so easily that flyhalf Elton Jantjies strolled in for the try next to the posts.
The try of the match came from the Kings, as Ntsila broke from a ruck, went on a 20 metre rampage, threw a beauty of a dummy before unloading to winger Penxe who went in at the corner to score.
It didn’t take the Lions long to be in the Kings 22 again, and on the front foot, with clean, fast ball, it was a matter of time as they drew the defence, created the overlap and watched Tambwe go over for his second of the game.
Another monster maul did its job as it disintegrated the Kings’ defence, with Kriel bursting through the middle to score the fifth try.
With a 23-point lead at the break, the Lions took their foot off the gears and the Kings revelled with more ball, growing in confidence all the time.
The Lions’ defence was still too good though, with Malcolm Jaer showing a beautiful step in the second minute of the second half to score, but despite the possession and territory, the Kings’ couldn’t get over after that.
Harold Vorster’s try close to the end settled the bonus point for the Lions and gave them the mission accomplished tag they wanted.
And while the second half was more than forgettable, it was good enough to tick all the boxes for the South African favourites, and to take another step forward.
Southern Kings – tries: Anidisa Ntsila, Yaw Penxe, Malcolm Jaer. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2).
Emirates Lions – tries : Madosh Tambwe (2), Malcolm Marx, Elton Jantjies, Jaco Kriel, Harold Vorster. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (6)