Super 15

Rampant Lions secure first final appearance

The Lions ran in five tries as they secured a first Super Rugby final appearance with a resounding 42-30 victory over defending champions Highlanders at Ellis Park.

Elton Jantjies, Rohan Janse van Resnburg, Courtnall Skosan, Jaco Kriel and Lourens Erasmus all crossed for the home side, who hit the front after 12 minutes and set a blistering tempo that left their opponents reeling.

Leading 17-6 at the break, the Lions moved further ahead at the start the second period as Skosan grabbed his 10th try of the season, before Matt Faddes' swift response briefly raised the possibility of a Highlanders comeback.

But Kriel's subsequent five-pointer nipped those hopes in the bud and a superb breakaway try from Erasmus put the icing on the cake for Johan Ackerman's side.

Fly-half Lima Sopoaga crossed for the Highlanders midway through the second half, while Waisake Naholo and Joe Wheeler found the line in the last four minutes, but their efforts did little other than make the scoreline look more respectable for the New Zealanders, who were second-best throughout.

The result capped a remarkable turnaround for the Lions who were relegated from the competition in 2012 but won 12 games in this year's regular season and ended it tied with the Chiefs as the top try-scorers.

And their achievement was rendered all the more impressive by the fact they were without influential skipper Warren Whiteley, who missed out due to a calf injury, and had suffered a 34-15 defeat at the hands of the Highlanders in Dunedin earlier in the campaign.

The South Africans will now travel to Wellington to face the Hurricanes in next weekend's final after Chris Boyd's men downed the Chiefs in the other semi.