Lions earn bonus point Sharks Currie Cup victory

The Lions secured a 16-31 Currie Cup victory over the Sharks in Durban in a
Currie Cup match that left very little for the imagination.

While both teams showed glimpses of their potential on attack, the difference
between the sides proved to be their accuracy in defence.

It was, however, the Lions’ first victory in the coastal city since 2007
and the bonus point may prove to be vital at a later stage.

In an error-ridden first half where both sides may have made more handling
errors than metres with ball-in-hand, the Lions dominated at scrum-time while
the Sharks relied heavily on the boot of Lionel Cronje to drive the visitors
out of their territory.

That scrum-time dominance would continue throughout the match, but still the
Lions failed to capitalise.

Just after the 10-minute mark the Lions gained the upper-hand after centre
Howard Mnisi was quick to react from an overthrow at a line-out inside the Sharks
22.

The visitors had won a penalty and fly-half Marnitz Boshoff gave his team the
perfect platform, but the line-out throw was slightly overcooked.

Mnisi, who was involved in many heated exchanges throughout the match, benefitted
from the bounce of the ball and did well to control it with the boot before
going over for the try.

The first-half frustration continued as neither of the teams managed to round-off
the opportunities they created.

This resulted in some great tackles and former Cheetahs No 8 Phillip van der
Walt put in a hit on Boshoff that is likely to make the highlights package.

The Sharks eventually managed to get on the board with a penalty by Joe Pietersen
and they would come within one point after prop Dale Chadwick won a penalty
at a breakdown.

Leading 7-6 at the break, the Lions were again first to score with a penalty
by Boshoff, but again unforced errors prevented the sides from playing the fluent
game pundits had anticipated it would.

In a rare passage when things did go their way, the Sharks took the lead in
the 60th minute when Odwa Ndungane rounded off in the corner after replacement
SP Marais put through a nearly timed grubber.

Pietersen did exceptionally well to convert the try from the touchline to ensure
his side went six points clear.

In a blitz response, the Lions struck back through Stokkies Hanekom who stretched
over following an impressive passage of interplay between forwards and backs.

Boshoff missed the routine conversion, but the lead still belonged to the Lions
at 17-16.

It was all setup for a nail-bitting finish, but the Lions had other plans.

A brilliant break by Ross Cronje from a defensive line-out inside his team’s
22 resulted in the try that would seal the deal.

Cronje set-off and found Andre Combrinck who threw a well-timed inside pass
Courtnall Skosann who raced over for the five-pointer.

Replacement wing Volmink would score the unexpected bonus point try from an
intercept with one-minute remaining on the clock.

Final Score Sharks 16 (6) Lions 31 (7)

Scorers

Sharks
Try: Odwa Ngungane
Conversion: Joe Pietersen
Penalties: Pietersen (3

Lions
Tries: Howard Mnisi, Stokkies Hanekom, Courtnall Skosan, Anthony Volmink
Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (4)
Penalty: Ruan Combrinck

Teams

Sharks

15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen,
11 S’bura Sithole, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Philip van der Walt,
7 Daniel du Preez, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Etienne Oosthuizen,
3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Monde Hadebe, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Gerhard Engel

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