Francois Steyn, asked to step into the flyhalf channel after a late withdrawal from regular Pat Lambie, has scored 17 points in a flawless kicking display to guide the Sharks to a 37-23 victory over the Lions.
The Sharks applied early pressure via Steyn’s unerring boot in the first half, with the big man kicking three good penalties in the first half to go with tries by Paul Jordaan and Cobus Reinach, both of which were converted. While the Sharks battled to really gel on attack and certainly found the Lions more than able competitors up-front, good positional work and kicking out of hand by both Steyn and SP Marais kept them in the right parts of the field.
Jordaan’s try was a gem; Willem Alberts forced a turnover with a big tackle, with Ryan Kankowski on hand to put Lwazi Mvovo into space. The wing made yard, then kicked on for Jordaan to juggle the ball before bringing it under control to go over. Reinach’s late score in the half came from a rare lineout fumble. Anton Bresler knocked the ball backwards and the nippy scrumhalf seized the opportunity as the Lions took their eyes off matters just for a second.
At 23-9 up, the Sharks were cruising at half time and they extended that lead further through a try to Odwa Ndungane 10 minutes after half time. As was the case against the Hurricanes, though, the team battled to really drive home the ascendancy and some poor discipline, made worse by ridiculous officiating by referee Jaco Peyper, saw them pinned in their own half for much of the 15 minutes that followed. Ryan Kankowski was shown a yellow card for a maul transgression and the ever-opportunistic Lions scored twice within the space of just a few minutes to suddenly find themselves back in the game.
To the Sharks’ credit, though, they then stopped playing basketball and concentrated on field position, putting in strong work to finally secure the bonus point try via a driving maul off the last movement of the game. Marcell Coetzee this bagged his first of the season, but the biggest cheer was saved for Steyn, who nailed the tricky touchline conversion to maintain a seven from seven record on the night in which he finally went over the 100 point mark in Super Rugby. The man of the match award was just gravy.
Sharks 37: Tries Paul Jordaan, Cobus Reinach, Odwa Ndungane, Marcell Coetzee. Conversions Frans Steyn (4). Penalties Steyn (3).
Lions 23: Tries Faf de Klerk, Deon van Rensburg. Conversions Marnitz Boshoff (2). Penalties Boshoff (3).