It is the end of an era, as the Bulls embarrassed their Trans-Jukskei neighbours, the Lions, with a 30-12 demolition at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Captain and flyhalf Handre Pollard kicked 20 points in the match and it was the Bulls’ first Super Rugby victory in Johannesburg since 2012.
Pollard, deputising as skipper for injured lock Lood de Jager, slotted six penalties and a conversion from eight shots at goal at Ellis Park.
It took his season tally to 52 points from three matches, 17 more than second-place Hayden Parker from Japanese outfit the Sunwolves.
Pollard kicked the Bulls into the lead on 14 minutes, they led 14-0 at the half and sealed victory five minutes from time when fullback Warrick Gelant scored a try.
Victory lifted the Bulls three places to fourth, three points behind leaders and defending champions the Crusaders from New Zealand.
The Lions, runners-up in the past three Super Rugby finals, slid two places to 10th after a second successive loss in the southern hemisphere franchise championship.
While Eli Snyman starred as a replacement for De Jager, the Lions struggled without injured captain and No.8 Warren Whiteley, who was replaced by hooker Malcolm Marx.
“It was a great team effort,” said Pollard, the likeliest Springboks playmaker at the 2019 World Cup in Japan this September.
“I did not expect to win by such a wide margin given the Lions’ record against us at Ellis Park in recent seasons.
“Everyone contributed and I want to give special praise to Eli. He had big shoes to fill as a replacement for Lood and lasted the full 80 minutes.”
Marx, a finalist for the 2018 World Rugby Player of the Year award won by Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton, led the Lions even though flyhalf Elton Jantjies is the official vice-captain.
“We rarely got out of our half in the first half and when we did, we made mistakes. Obviously, we missed Warren, who is a great captain and leader.”
Duane Vermeulen was the Bulls’ other try-scorer while props Carlu Sadie and Dylan Smith scored a try each for the Lions with Jantjies converting one.
For the Lions:
Tries: Sadie, Smith
For the Bulls:
Tries: Vermeulen, Gelant
Pens: Pollard 6
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