Kings no match for awesome 14-man Lions
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Lions hammered the Southern Kings 54-10 at Ellis Park on Sunday, despite playing a large part of the match with just 14-men.
The Johannesburg outfit scored eight tries on their way to victory, while the Kings only crossed the tryline once during the 80 minutes.
The win means the Lions remain in hot pursuit of the Crusaders for top place in the Super Rugby standings.
Record seven-time champions Crusaders have 59 points with fixtures against fellow New Zealand sides Highlanders (home) and Hurricanes (away) to come.
Lions trail by three points, but appear to have an easier run-in with Japanese strugglers Sunwolves at home, then fellow South Africans Sharks away.
The table toppers enjoy home advantage in each knockout match of a competition that often involves stamina-sapping inter-continent travel.
Lions are hoping to go one step further this season after finishing runners-up to the Hurricanes in Wellington last year.
They had to play 49 minutes against Kings a man short after hooker Robbie Coetzee was sent off for retaliation. Kings lock Irne Herbst and flank Chris Cloete were sin-binned.
The South African showdown at a sun-bathed Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg was won and lost in the minutes just before and after half-time.
A try-saving tackle by Lions wing Courtnall Skosan was followed by a counterattack in which flank and Sevens star Albertus Smith ran almost the length of the field to score.
That try gave the hosts a 19-3 lead at the break and they struck again less than two minutes into the second half and snuffed out any threat of a Kings comeback.
A sweeping move along the touchline ended with substitute hooker Malcolm Marx diving over and flyhalf Elton Jantjies converted for a lead that grew steadily as the half progressed.
Showing no mercy, Lions completed the rout after the final siren sounded with fullback Andries Coetzee dodging tackles, then sprinting clear to score.
"I am so proud of my boys because playing more than half the match a man short is not easy," said Lions No.8 and skipper Warren Whiteley, who was named Springboks captain this week.
"We scored some great long-range tries and successfully changed our tactics to counter the effects of the red card.
"Kings also deserve credit as they put us under a lot of pressure during the first half and at the beginning of the second half," he said.
Lock Andries Ferreira, Skosan, Smith (2), Marx, prop Jacques van Rooyen, scrumhalf Francois de Klerk, and Coetzee scored Lions tries.
Jantjies kicked five conversions before being benched and Coetzee two.
Centre Luzuko Vulindlu was Kings try-scorer and flyhalf Pieter-Steyn de Wet slotted a conversion and a penalty.
Man of the match: Lionel Mapoe was dangerous in the midfield, while Albertus Smith scored two tries in another brilliant performance. However, the award goes to replacement hooker Malcolm Marx, who was immense when he came onto the field.
Tries: Ferreira, Skosan, Smith 2, Marx, Van Rooyen, De Klerk, A Coetzee
Cons: Jantjies 5, A Coetzee 2
For Southern Kings:
Con: De Wet
Pen: De Wet
Red card: Robbie Coetzee (Lions, 31 - foul play, knee to the head)
Yellow cards: Irne Herbst (Southern Kings, 9 - cynical play, early drive at line-out); Chris Cloete (Southern Kings, 31 - foul play, dangerous charge)
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Johannes Jonker, 18 Lourens Erasmus, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Dillon Smit, 21 Jacques Nel, 22 Anthony Volmink/Sylvian Mahuza.
Southern Kings: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Alshaun Bock, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tyler Paul, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys (captain), 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Mzamo Majola, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Ntabeni Dukisa, 23 Nicolaas Hanekom.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Egon Seconds (South Africa), Ben Crouse (South Africa)
TMO: Christie du Preez (South Africa)