JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The Lions strengthened their grip at the top of the South Africa Conference with a bonus-point 42-24 Super Rugby victory over an ill-disciplined ACT Brumbies side at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Brumbies had lock Rory Arnold red-carded with 20 minutes remaining — having been sent to the sin bin in the first half — and also lost fellow second-rower Sam Carter to the sin bin minutes later as they played a portion of the final 20 minutes with 13 men.
The home side scored six tries, through Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Robbie Coetzee, Ruan Dreyer, Marnus Schoeman, Lourens Erasmus and Shaun Reynolds.
But it was only after the red card for Arnold that they were able to tame a game Brumbies side.
The visitors scored their tries through fullback Tom Banks (two) and centre Tevita Kuridrani, and will know that with better discipline they could have rekindled hopes of still making the playoffs.
The Brumbies hit the front inside five minutes as Banks burst down the right wing and crossed for an early try.
But the Lions hit back when, after winning a penalty at the scrum, they opted to kick to touch. Wing Sylvian Mahuza was held up over the line, but Rohan Janse van Rensburg beat two tackles to level the scores.
The visitors were back in front just before the midway point of the first half as Kuridrani showed his strength to power his way over the tryline and ground the ball.
After another penalty at the scrum in favour of the Lions, they set up an attacking lineout and once more it paid dividends as their first effort saw Arnold sent to the sin-bin for collapsing the maul and from the second, Coetzee was able to score as the home side’s powerful pack used their numerical advantage to good effect.
The Lions’ third try was mauled over by Dreyer to give the home side a 21-17 halftime lead.
The Brumbies hit the front again, though, when Banks scored his second try, breaking through some weak tackling from the hosts.
It was they who looked the most likely to go on and win the game at that point until Arnold’s moment of madness with 20 minutes remaining.
The Wallaby was sent from the field for a dangerously high tackle on Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies, and looks likely to spend quite a few weeks on the sidelines for what was a dreadful piece of play.
Brumbies were down to 13 a minute later when Carter was sent to the sin bin for collapsing a maul.
Schoeman, Reynolds and Erasmus all then scored in the closing minutes as the Lions cantered home with superior numbers on the pitch.
(Reporting By Nick Said,; Editing by Neville Dalton)