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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The Lions won their 12th match out of 13 to keep up their commanding lead in the Super Rugby conference, playing with just 14 men for more than half the game but still easily beating the Southern Kings 54-10 at Ellis Park on Sunday.
It was the second successive week that the Lions had scored more than 50 points after they also thumped the Bulls last week.
The Lions scored eight tries to one for the Kings in another dominant home performance, before a one-month break for international tests, with a home fixture in July’s quarter-finals secured.
Tries from Andries Ferreira and Courtnall Skosan had the Lions 12-0 up before hooker Robbie Coetzee was red-carded just after the half-hour mark for kneeing the head of Kings flanker Chris Cloete in a petulant retaliation to some tough tackling.
The disadvantage, tempered by two yellow cards that the visitors picked up inside the first 30 minutes, made little difference as flanker Kwagga Smith scored a third try for the Lions to take a 19-3 lead into halftime.
Last year’s Super Rugby runners-up kept up their dominance after the break with substitute Malcolm Marx, prop Jacques van Rooyen and former sevens rugby star Smith all scoring in the first 15 minutes.
Marx burst down the line with a powerful run from inside his own half that Smith finished off and more explosive running ensured Faf de Klerk dotted down the seventh try.
The best try came after the hooter at the end of the game as fullback Andries Coetzee, called up by the Springboks for the first time last week, broke tackles in his own 25 metres and ran almost the length of the field to score.
An intercept try from Luzuko Vulindlu on the hour gave the Kings some consolation but they looked tired in the thin Highveld air as the Lions’ superior physical conditioning was all too evident.
“To play with 14 men for 60 minutes is tough but we did really well and showed some great character. We adjusted a bit, we switched on well, stayed out of the rucks and scored some great long-range tries,” said Lions captain Warren Whiteley.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Clare Fallon