The Emirates Lions clinched their spot in the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs with a comprehensive 37-10 victory over the Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday evening.
The Highveld side claimed the African Conference Two title and are now 12 points ahead of the second-placed Cell C Sharks with just two weeks to play. They now have 47 points, the most by any side in the campaign, and on Saturday they scored their tenth win from 13 outings.
An enthusiastic crowd of almost 40 000 braved the ice-cold conditions to watch the South African derby, and the home supporters were rewarded by the Emirates Lions who played sparkling rugby.
They outscored the visitors by five tries to two for another try-bonus point win. Led by Jaco Kriel in the injury-absence of regular skipper Warren Whiteley and with Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk again in great form, the home side raced to a pulsating 27-0 halftime lead.
They added ten more points after the break, and it was only after the hour mark that the Durban side were able to score. Lwazi Mvovo and Chiliboy Ralepelle managed a try apiece during that period, but by then the result was already secured.
Ruan Combrinck, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Malcolm Marx, Ruan Ackermann, Jaco Kriel each dotted a try for the home side.
Emirates Lions – Tries: Ruan Combrinck, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Malcolm Marx, Ruan Ackermann, Jaco Kriel. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3). Penalties: Jantjies (2).
Cell C Sharks – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo, Chiliboy Ralepelle.