The Sharks have beaten the Lions at Kings Park by 32 points to 20, bagging a try bonus point in the process.
In a scrappy game punctuated all-too-frequently by the whistle of referee Mark Lawrence, the Sharks did little to put the so-called “depleted” Lions to the sword and left it until the very last play of the game – a driving maul which saw Jacques Botes score his 25th Super Rugby try – to secure both the result and the bonus point. After 78 minutes of bother and bluster, that saw constructive play tempered by sloppiness and indiscipline, the home signed finished in the best possible style, with a truly textbook play off an attacking lineout reminiscent of this team at their very best in days of yore.
Prior to that score, the Lions, who never gave up and defended like trojans all afternoon, despite their heavy underdog status, had managed to claw themselves right back into contention by virtue of a try by prop Ruan Dreyer, on Super Rugby debut. Along with an earlier score to Jaco Taute and some decent kicking from Butch James, it was the visitors who had, by that stage, had the better of the second half after coming short to the tune of 14-6 in the opening 40.
That first period was frustrating for both sides, but particularly for the Sharks as they battled to turn dominance into points. They took a fairly comfortable lead thanks to tries by Riaan Viljoen and Lwazi Mvovo, both scored after mistakes by the Lions, but could easily have had more had the side managed to avoid giving away silly penalties, particularly on attack. There was more of the same in the second, with a wonderful counter-attack by JP Pietersen, which went quickly through Tim Whitehead’s hands to send Meyer Bosman in under the sticks, the only really good piece of play in an error strewn 40 minutes.
While the team will be happy with the win – and ecstatic about the bonus point – they will know that a similar level of indiscipline against a better side will result in a proper hammering.
Bismarck du Plessis, despite giving away a penalty or two, was again a stand out player, with his immense strength at the breakdown often proving decisive in halting the Lions’ progress. Amongst the backs, JP Pietersen again shone in his new position at outside centre and is starting to look like one of the best in the entire competition in that channel.
Many positives, in short, for the Sharks, not least of which the first win of the campaign, moving them up to 8th position in the overall standings – and 3rd on the South African conference log.
Sharks 32: Tries Riaan Viljoen, Lwazi Mvovo, Meyer Bosman, Jacques Botes. Conversions Pat Lambie 3. Penalties Lambie 2.
Lions 20: Tries Jaco Taute, Ruan Dreyer. Conversions Butch James 2. Penalties James 2.Tweet