The Lions romped home with a first-half try fest to secure a thumping 49-11 Currie Cup victory over Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.
The Lions bounced back from a close shave against the Pumas in their opening game with a dominant performance for their second straight win, taking the lead less than four minutes after the start and extending it all the way to the final whistle.
The visitors secured six tries in the first half, and two in the second, with scrumhalf Jano Vermaak bagging a hat-trick in the first 24 minutes.
Vermaak got them on the board early when he stormed over on the right in the fourth minute.
Flyhalf Burton Francis missed the conversion and three minutes later his Griquas counterpart, Monty Dumand, narrowed the gap with a penalty.
Lions eighthman Josh Strauss barged into the Griquas pack after a quick tap in the 10th minute and Vermaak snuck out the maul to secure his brace. Francis converted and the Lions held an early 12-3 lead.
Four minutes later Francis caught a fortunate bounce after a pass from fullback Michael Killian and went over, converting his own try to stretch the gap.
Dumond kept Griquas ticking over, pulling three points back in the 23rd minute, but those were the home team’s last points of the first half.
A minute later Lions loosehead Pat Cilliers bulldozed through the middle before Alwyn Hollenbach gave a quick pass to Vermaak for the bonus point try.
Francis missed the conversion, but the Lions were in control and centre Lionel Mapoe went over on the left wing in the 33rd minute.
Moments later, Strauss and Vermaak set up wing Deon van Rensburg for the visiting team’s sixth try, with Francis converting to give them a 36-6 lead at the break.
Griquas flanker Justin Downey went over between the posts in the dying minutes of the first half, but he lost the ball going over the line.
Francis kept the momentum going after the break, banging over his first penalty kick of the match in the 49th minute.
Showing some fight, Griquas skipper Jonathan Mokuena went over for the home side’s first try in the 60th minute, but fullback Riaan Viljoen missed the conversion and the Lions were 39-11 ahead midway through the second stanza.
Francis sent a penalty kick wide with nine minutes left, but centre Waylon Murray scored a try with two minutes remaining and Mapoe went over for his brace in injury time to secure the win.
“The first-half performance from the guys was outstanding,” Lions coach John Mitchell said after the game. “We had a lot more energy and a different mindset this week, which we proved in the first half.”
Perennial early front runners Griquas, who drew their opening match against Western Province, were left to reassess with only two points from their first two games.
Griquas: Tries: Jonathan Mokuena. Penalties: Monty Dumond (2).
Lions: Tries: Jano Vermaak (3), Burton Francis, Lionel Mapoe (2), Deon van Rensburg, Waylon Murray. Conversions: Francis (3).
Penalties: Francis. — Sapa