DURBAN – The Sharks shot back to second place in the South African conference with a 27-17 Super Rugby win over the Lions in Durban on Saturday.
After a bye last weekend, this was a vital result for the Durban-based side, who had to dig deep for this victory after the Lions had mounted a gutsy fightback.
Although the Lions made a sprightly start to this clash, the Sharks gradually began to work their way into the match, and quickly began to look the more organised side.
With the home team’s aggressive defence rushing the Lions, it forced an error from Elton Jantjies as his loose pass was snapped up by Curwin Bosch, who duly darted 50m to score an intercept try in the 17th minute.
It was also in the physical exchanges up front that the Sharks were able to establish ascendancy, and from a driving maul, Dan du Preez burst over to score just after the quarter-hour mark.
For the Lions, opportunities were few and far between, but almost at the first time of asking, some lovely interplay between Elton Jantjies and Lionel Mapoe enabled them to hit back with a timely try.
The Sharks would ultimately take that seven-point lead into half-time, but would have again been left extremely frustrated when two gilt-edged try-scoring opportunities came to nothing early in the second half.
To make matters worse, the Lions again scored against the run of play, with Cyle Brink finishing off a superb try in the 50th minute to draw the scores level.
Despite this fightback from the Lions, Bosch edged the Sharks ahead again with an important penalty. Jantjies was then guilty of a second poor pass, with Makazole Mapimpi this time intercepting and darting 90m to score a crucial try that sent the hosts into a 10-point lead.
From that point, it never looked as if the Sharks would be denied, and they duly finished off an important victory.
A titanic match from the Black Panther @cellc Sharks & the Spider-man Emirates Lions sees the home side emerge victorious-#WakandaForever!
It was a blockbuster from end to end with plenty of moments of magic,but there could only be 1 winner!#OurSharksForever #SHAvLIO pic.twitter.com/cKARrIMdqR
— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) May 25, 2019
Scorers: Sharks 27 (14): Tries: Curwin Bosch, Dan du Preez, Makazole Mapimpi. Conversions: Bosch (3). Penalty: Bosch (2).
Lions 17 (7): Tries: Lionel Mapoe, Cyle Brink. Conversion: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty: Jantjies.
African News Agency (ANA)