Lions find their teeth & sink them into the Sharks

The Lions pulled off one of the biggest shock results in South African Super Rugby when they beat the Sharks 38-28 with a bonus point at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.


The result ends an eleven match losing streak against all teams for the Lions and a thirteen match losing streak against the Sharks.


The Lions had not beaten the Sharks in Super Rugby since the 30th of March 2001 in the Super 12.


The Lions match was also the first time in sixteen matches that the Lions had scored four tries and earned a bonus point as they last scored four tries in May 2011 against the Brumbies.


The Sharks started the match as heavy favourites after they had won their last four matches including last week’s clash against South African conference leaders the Stormers.


The victory moved the Lions off the bottom of the table, one point ahead of the Blues, and drops the Sharks out of the top six as the Hurricanes have a better points differential.


The Reds and Highlanders will be thrilled with the result as it re-opens a door to the play offs that was gradually closing for them.


The win is only the second of the season for the struggling Johannesburg outfit, who face possible relegation from the Super Rugby tournament next season.


The Sharks drew first blood through a Patrick Lambie penalty, 20 seconds into the game.


The Lions, however, turned the next eight minutes into points after a crafty try through Grant Hattingh – who collected a chip-kick over the Sharks defence with only the try-line ahead – followed three minutes later by another try.


This time the television match official (TMO) was called into action and ruled that Derick Minnie crossed the try-line, leaving the visitors reeling at 14-3 inside 10 minutes.


Elton Jantjies continued his good form with the boot, trading penalties with Lambie to keep the Lions’ lead at 17-6 halfway through the first period.


The hosts never looked like sitting back and after a line-out to the Lions inside the Sharks 22-meter area, Lionel Mapoe broke the Sharks’ line superbly, diving over for his side’s third try after 25 minutes.


Things went from bad to worse for the Durban outfit three minutes later as lock Steven Sykes was yellow-carded for illegally using his shoulder to enter a ruck.


The Lions, however, failed to capitalize on their numbers advantage, as one of their own, Lionel Mapoe, was sent to the sin-bin seven minutes from the break.


With 35 minutes gone, the Sharks sent the ball wide through the back-line after a scrum inside the Lions territory with Lwazi Mvovo beating one man to dot down for the Sharks first try of the evening.


Lambie missed the conversion to the right of the uprights but his kick was not to be the last action of the half as Deon van Rensburg scored his second, and the Lions bonus-point try with 90 seconds to the interval.


The second period started with the Sharks coming out firing.


Two tries in two minutes from centre JP Pietersen and wing Odwa Ndungane brought the Durbanites right back into contention, with the Lions struggling to match the frenetic pace after the restart.


Jantjies, who scored 18 points on the night, slotted another penalty, leaving the Sharks 10 points behind with just 25 minutes left to play.


The Sharks were angered by referee Garrat Williamson in the 59th minute when he refused to award the visitors a penalty after Frederic Michalak appeared to have been tackled after kicking the ball past a defender.


The game entered a lull, but with four minutes to play – the Sharks still trailing 38-28 – the TMO was called into action a third time as Louis Ludik dived over the line in the Lions corner, but the try was not awarded.


Final Score Lions 38 (32) Sharks 28 (11).


Scorers


Lions
Tries – G. Hattingh, D. Minnie, L. Mapoe, D.

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