The Lions provisionally moved to the top of the South African Super Rugby conference on Saturday thanks to a 40-17 win over the Cheetahs at Free State Stadium.
The result takes the Lions one point above the Bulls and two above the Stormers, ahead of the Capetonian’s clash with the Rebels later on Saturday.
The Lions outscored their hosts four tries to two to claim a well-deserved victory having led 23-3 at the interval.
If anything, the scoreline somewhat flatters the Cheetahs who were completely outplayed for an hour and, in similar fashion to last week’s hammering at the hands of the Highlanders, needed a couple of late tries to save their blushes.
All credit to the Lions though, as their work-rate and desire to use the width of the field impressed once again with scrum-half Faf de Klerk the standout performer.
Despite both teams going hell for leather in the opening exchanges, it took almost half an hour for the first try to be scored as opposing fly-halves Elton Jantjies and Francois Brummer swapped penalties to leave the Lions 6-3 up.
The Cheetahs couldn’t match the Lions intensity at the gainline however and it was just a matter of time before the tries started flowing.
Flank Jaco Kriel was first to cross the whitewash off the back of a Lions maul. Lionel Mapoe scored the second try, after the half-time hooter, following great work from De Klerk who slipped through gap in midfield.
Jantjies added both conversions and a penalty give his team a comfortable lead at the break.
The Lions struck again soon after the restart as wing Courtnall Skosan crossed after Howard Mnisi and Jaco Kriel combined on the counter attack.
The Cheetahs replied with try from a maul of their own as Boom Prinsloo crossed but De Klerk added the bonus-point try for the Lions from short range just after the hour mark following a break by Mapoe.
Again Jantjies was on target with both conversions and the result was all but settled at 40-10.
A late consolation try, again from a maul and again from Prinsloo, was too little, too late for the Cheetahs.
Tries: Prinsloo 2
Cons: Van Wyk 2
Tries: Kriel, Mapoe, Skosan, De Klerk
Cons: Jantjies 4
Pens: Jantjies 4
Yellow Card: Coetzee
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Carel Greeff, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Minnie.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Coenie van Wyk, 23 Rayno Benjamin.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Harold Vorster.
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)