Golden Lions get the hang of try-scoring at the close of their Super Rugby season, belting fellow South African strugglers the Cheetahs 60-25.
Golden Lions, who had scored only 23 tries in 15 previous Super Rugby matches this season, ran in eight to humiliate Central Cheetahs 60-25 in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Cheetahs contributed to their own downfall at a chilly Ellis Park by having three players sin-binned, and the Lions crossed the try-line five times when numerically advantaged.
Right wing Lionel Mapoe scored three tries in the final-round game and scrum half Ross Cronje, hooker Robbie Coetzee, No.8 Warren Whiteley, fullback Andries Coetzee and prop Corne Fourie one each.
Fly half Elton Jantjies, playing his final game for the Johannesburg franchise before joining a Japanese club, kicked seven conversions and two penalties for a 20-point total.
Right wing Cornal Hendricks scored two tries for Cheetahs and fullback Willie le Roux one with fly half Johan Goosen converting two and potting two penalties.
After trailing by seven points early on, Lions fought back to lead 27-13 before a small crowd who braved the mid-winter conditions.
A bonus-point victory lifted Lions to 12th in the final standings ahead of Queensland Reds, Cheetahs and Melbourne Rebels.
It was the third consecutive victory for the home side, who shocked Northern Bulls in a late May Highveld derby before a break for Tests, and overcame Melbourne Rebels last weekend.
Cheetahs managed only four victories from 16 matches – a poor return after a top-six finish last season and qualification for the play-offs.
They lost all eight away games – many by embarrassing margins – and are likely to lose some of their best players soon to overseas and fellow-South African sides.
Continuous indiscipline cost them dearly against the Lions with No.8 Philip van der Walt yellow-carded midway through the opening half.
Prop Coenie Oosthuizen was sin-binned on 52 minutes and four minutes later Goosen joined him on the touchline, reducing the Bloemfontein outfit to 13 players for six minutes.
Lions, who had Jantjies yellow-carded at the end of the first half, took full advantage of their numerical advantage, scoring two tries in two minutes and later two tries in three minutes.
Goosen and Jantjies exchanged early penalties before Cheetahs’ left wing Raymond Rhule set up Le Roux to dart over for a converted try.
Another Jantjies penalty and his conversion of a Mapoe try gave the Lions a 13-10 lead before Goosen levelled with his second penalty.
Cronje and Mapoe punished 14-man Cheetahs by scoring tries that Jantjies converted for a 14-point half-time advantage.
Hendricks, who made his debut for South Africa last month, dotted down five minutes into the second half and Goosen converted to leave just seven points between the teams.
But the rest of the match belonged to the Lions, who exceeded expectations with most pundits predicting they would finish bottom of the southern hemisphere championship table.