Lions beat Currie Cup leading Sharks

The Lions carried on their fairy tale recovery in the Currie Cup competition with a victory few outside of Johannesburg would have believed possible when they beat the log leading Sharks 22-20 at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.

The final score, a converted try, was the last act of the match. It was a well-deserved victory with greater enterprise and commitment from the winners probably securing the win against a side that tried to spoil on many occasions and simply didn’t have the penetration behind the pack despite three tries from their wingers.

The Sharks came back from 10-5 down to take the lead at 20-15, but then the resurgent Lions came back with a fighting spirit that could see them into the play-offs – and who knows, beyond. However, despite the win, the Lions remain in fifth position on the log and the Sharks are still the leaders.

The Sharks survived a torrid last ten minutes – or so it seemed, because the perseverance and good ball control of the Lions as well as their confidence to run brought reward with 30 seconds of the match remaining.

Captain Franco van der Merwe, who toiled throughout, was the man who drove over – and although it wasn’t the most difficult of kicks, Elton Jantjies converted after a very average afternoon with the boot to give his side the four points.

Of the three defining moments in the first half, two went the Lions’ way. After just a minute Lions hooker Martin Bezuidenhout had a brainless moment when he first tackled Sharks lock Alistair Hargreaves and then started hitting him repeatedly.

He was yellow-carded after winger Lwazi Mvovo rounded off the movement some 55 metres on and was lucky to escape with a yellow.

The sitter of a conversion was missed by Patrick Lambie who hit the upright, but the Sharks were 5-0 up inside two minutes.

The second moment of importance was after a sustained spell of attack by the Sharks over a period of four minutes or so – and when a score looked certain Derick Minnie brought off possibly the best tackle of his career on the corner flag to save the imminent score. At this stage the score was 5-3 to the Sharks after Elton Jantjies had slotted a penalty.

While the Sharks had slightly more possession, most of the direct rugby was played by the Lions and Jantjies missed an opportunity when he too struck the upright from a penalty.

The Sharks returned and looked very dangerous, but once again handling let them down on the Lions tryline – and then Doppies la Grange broke from such an error, broke free and fed Jannie Boshoff.

He ran well, evaded a tackle and gave to Jaco Taute 30 metres out to go over under the posts.

Jantjies converted and the Lions led for the first time, 10-5. But then came the third moment that had a major effect on the first half. The Sharks struck back – very fortuitously – when they took it wide and Mvovo evaded a tackle.

The try was awarded with assistant referee Christie du Preez missing Mvovo’s foot touching the line. Lambie missed, and the scores were tied at 10-all.

The Lions then played some scintillating rugby in the last three minutes but Jantjies again missed a very kickable opportunity which would have been just reward before the break.

Waylon Murray rounded off some good attacking play by the Lions nine minutes after halftime, but Jantjies again missed the conversion – his fourth from six attempts, albeit that one was from 50 metres out (15-10).

The home side then drove the Sharks off the ball and turned over another ruck – the third in the half – that was kicked ahead, too far by just two metres for the chasers. Lambie missed another penalty in a day the two young flyhalves would rather forget, but Odwa Ndungane, who has been busy throughout the match, received a pass on the overlap for an easy try with 25 minutes remaining.

This time Lambie’s kick from near touch was good and the Sh

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