The Vodacom Bulls demonstrated their attacking prowess as scrumhalf Bernard van der Linde scored a brace to add to tries by Sibongile Novuka and Stravino Jacobs (both wings), Nizaam Carr (flanker), and Chris Smit (replacement back), while flyhalf and captain Morné Steyn added six conversions.

Lyon battled back after going down by 28 points early on with former Vodacom Bulls loose forward Arno Botha - who crossed the chalk twice - Liam Coltman, Ethan Dumortier and Kyle Godwin notching the Top 14 team’s tries, while Leo Berdeu kicked 11 points, but ultimately the visitors failed to complete an improbable comeback on the Highveld.

Last season’s EPCR Challenge Cup winners struggled to find their feet at altitude in Pretoria, and the Vodacom Bulls took full advantage as they made a blistering start with Novuka scything through the visitors’ defence to dive over four minutes into the match.

They had a second try inside 10 minutes as scrumhalf Van der Linde sneaked around the corner to finish from close range after good work from Carr.

And with Van der Linde crossing again on 20 minutes following a delightful dummy, and Carr crashing over moments later, the hosts had the bonus point wrapped up inside 25 minutes.

However, Lyon rallied in the latter stages of the half and two lineout mauls earned them two scores, first through Botha against his former club and then through former All Black hooker Coltman.

The hosts began the second half with their lead cut to 16 points, but that was quickly extended as Jacobs produced a phenomenal score, stepping inside twice to finish under the posts.

But Lyon counterpart Dumortier hit back with a stunning try of his own moments later, showcasing some clever footwork before muscling over out wide.

The gap was down to nine points on 48 minutes as Botha chipped forward and dived on the loose ball for his second try of the evening, with Leo Berdeu adding his third conversion of the game.

Berdeu moved Lyon to within six points with a penalty goal from some distance on the hour mark, but Smit eased the pressure on the Vodacom Bulls as he finished excellently for his score and Steyn kicked his sixth conversion of the evening.

There was time for yet another top-class try as Lyon centre Godwin dinked over a covering defender and dotted down, and although the game went deep into overtime as the visitors pushed for another score, the home side held on for the win in an incredible contest.

Both sides face Gallagher Premiership opposition in Round 2 next Saturday, with the Vodacom Bulls away at 2020 Heineken Champions Cup winners Exeter Chiefs and Lyon hosting three-time champions Saracens.


Vodacom Bulls 42 (28) - Tries: Sibongile Novuka, Bernard van Der Linde (2), Nizaam Carr, Stravino Jacobs, Chris Smit. Conversions: Morne Steyn (6).

Lyon 36 (12) - Tries: Arno Botha (2), Liam Coltman, Ehan Dumortier, Kyle Godwin. Conversions: Leo Berdeu (4). Penalty goal: Berdeu.