PRETORIA - Ill-discipline from the home side helped the Lions keep up their 100 percent start to the new Super Rugby season with a bonus-point 49-35 South African derby victory over the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Johannesburg-based side, beaten finalists in the competition in the previous two seasons, scored tries through props Ruan Dreyer and Jacques Van Rooyen, lock Marvin Orie and hooker Malcolm Marx as their pack dominated in the set-pieces and driving maul.
They also managed a penalty try, while wing Sylvian Mahuza and scrumhalf Ross Cronje crossed over in what was a dominant second half performance.
The Bulls scored their tries through wings John-Ben Kotze and Travis Ismaiel, centre Handre Pollard and prop Lizo Gqoboka.
The Lions started strongly, building a three-try advantage to lead 21-9 after 31 minutes.
The home side fought back strongly and were in the game at the 50-minute mark, with the scores level at 21-21, after a perfectly-flighted cross-field kick was dotted down by Kotze, and Pollard pounced on an error by Cronje. .
But following yellow cards in quick succession for prop Conraad Van Vuuren in the 54th minute and loose-forward Nick de Jager a minute later, the Bulls were forced to play for almost 10 minutes with 13 players.
Boosted by their numerical advantage, the Lions pulled away in this period to record a third successive victory this season and inflict a first defeat on the Bulls.
"Credit to the Bulls, they played extremely well. We had to fight for the victory and there is plenty of room for improvement. Our mauling set a good platform. One or two soft moments let them (the Bulls) in though," Lions captain Warren Whiteley said at the post-match presentation.
The Bulls were forced into a change before the game when captain Burger Odendaal was withdrawn because of a rib injury, prompting a move for Springbok flyhalf Pollard to inside centre and Marnitz Boshoff taking over in the number 10 jersey.