Sharks bite Lions in Currie Cup

The Sharks came away with a 30-19 away win against the Golden Lions on Saturday, thanks to their discipline, under immense pressure, in defence and the attacking blunders of the plucky Lions.

It defies logic that the Lions, who dominated the first half, had more than their share of the second half and played some exciting, attacking rugby were 23-0 behind in the 70th minute – which is when they got their first points through a try by captain Cobus Grobbelaar.

Earl Rose’s missed conversion was also the first shot at goal by the Lions in a match where the Sharks were forced to make 69 tackles to that point against only 31 with the territorial breakdown 71-31 in favour of the home side.

Three tries – the same number as the Sharks – in the last 10 minutes were not enough to make up the leeway and the Lions were left to rue a match which they could and probably should have won.

What didn’t work under former coach Eugene Eloff was again the Lions’ downfall on Saturday.

They created opportunities aplenty, but a lack of constructive play when it mattered and especially in their finishing saw a first half they completely dominated belong to the Sharks with a lead of 17-0 at the break.

The Lions had 58% of the possession in this half, dominated the territory stakes by more than two to one, had to make only 19 first-half tackles to the Sharks’ 45 – and still contrived to let the important home win slip out of their reach.

The Sharks’ first try came after a loss of concentration on defence. Running from their own territory, the visitors’ forwards and backs combined well until Ryan Kankowski did some smart stepping to beat some tight forwards for a somewhat undeserved but outstanding Sharks try.

But there were earlier missed tackles in this move as well, and that in addition to the squandered chances put the Sharks in control on the scoreboard which made it 10-0 after an earlier penalty and the conversion by Monty Dumont.

It was Man of the Match Kankowski again, with a superb off-load this time, who was influential in the Sharks’ second converted try by Craig Burden three minutes before the break (17-0).

In the second half, the Lions also had the better of the play – but knocks, discipline and poor options saw the Sharks score the only points in this third quarter through a second Dumont penalty (20-0).

It became 23-0 after a rare Sharks visit to the Lions 22, mainly because they had the numbers at the breakdown to force the successful Dumont penalty.

With 17 minutes left the Lions now needed more than three converted tries to win – an unlikely assignment considering that they had not even had a shot at goal up to that point.

However, they continued to fight and dominate, and scored three tries. First, they pulled the score back to 23-12 through two well-constructed tries by Grobbelaar and Derick Minnie, with Ruan Boshoff converting the second five minutes from time.

The Lions’ chase for a losing bonus point was, however, denied when the Lions were forced to carry the ball back. The Sharks were awarded a penalty try as the Lions disintegrated from the five metres scrum.

On the final whistle the Lions got a well-deserved try by Pieter Engelbrecht – his first in Currie Cup rugby – following an interception. But three tries apiece is scant consolation for a home loss after all the dominance the Lions had enjoyed.

Final Score Lions 19 Sharks 30


Tries: Cobus Grobbelaar, Derick Minnie, Pieter Engelbrecht.
Conversion: Ruan Boshoff (2).

Tries: Ryan Kankowski, Craig Burden, penalty try.
Conversions: Monty Dumont (3).
Penalties: Dumont (3).

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