JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s Lions showed their entire array of skills to batter the Japanese Sunwolves into submission with a thumping 94-7 victory in their Super Rugby clash at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Lions ran in 14 tries to equal the tournament record for a single game as they picked apart the dismal defence of the visitors, who will have plenty of soul-searching to do after such a harrowing defeat.
Wing Ruan Combrinck scored a hat-trick of tries for the home side, to go with braces for loose forwards Jaco Kriel and Kwagga Smith.
Remarkably, none of the 101 points scored in the match came from penalties.
The victory moves the Lions to 61 points from 14 games -- two behind overall log leaders, the Canterbury Crusaders, from New Zealand -- with one round remaining as they seek the top spot that would give them a home run in the knockout stages.
The Lions were utterly dominant in the scrum as they pushed the Sunwolves off their own ball on two occasions in the first half, and from the first of those scrumhalf Ross Cronje grabbed the opening try.
The physicality of the home side was too much for the meek Sunwolves, who conceded one of the softest tries seen in Super Rugby all season shortly afterwards.
Kriel picked up the ball on the 22-metre line and powered through seven Sunwolves tackles to go over for the try. Credit the persistence and strength of the loose-forward, but the defence from the visitors was abysmal.
Sensing blood, given their dominant opening 20 minutes, the Lions then ran a ball from inside their own 22 with an excellent move that ended with Smith scoring the try.
Smith then added another and flyhalf Elton Jantjies got in on the action as the home side went into halftime leading 35-0.
The carnage continued in the second period, with hooker Armand van der Merwe finishing another rampaging Lions attack, before Combrink broke the Sunwolves line far too easily to score.
The visitors were flailing and from the kick-off the Lions launched another savage attack that saw Kriel grab his second, before Combrink was put into space by a long pass and crossed easily for a ninth try inside an hour.
There was a brief reprieve for the Sunwolves when Uwe Helu scored under the posts, but within minutes the Lions had stretched their lead Courtnall Skosan the latest to pick apart the Sunwolves defence.
Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, flyer Sylvian Mahuza and number eight Ruan Ackermann all touched down, before Combrink completed the rout with his hat-trick.
Reporting By Nick Said,; Editing by Neville Dalton