In an excellent advertisement for South African rugby, the Lions had to pull out all the stops to edge a revitalised Sharks team 34-29 at Ellis Park on Saturday evening in a pulsating Super Rugby clash.
The Lions eventually outscored the Sharks, who lead 16-13 at the break, by three tries to two but it took a 77th minute try from Lions flanker Jaco Kriel to seal the deal.
Who was the star of this match?
Lions flanker Jaco Kriel did not only score a crucial try three minutes from time but his work-rate was incredible. He was the Lions’ key player at the breakdown and eventually subdued the Du Preez twins, Jean-Luc and Daniel, who put huge pressure on the home side in the first half.
Key moments and themes
- Curwin Bosch was excellent at flyhalf for the Sharks, kicking 19 points. Yet his knock-on after a tackle from Courtnall Skosan deep inside his own half late in the game that increased the pressure on his side. It eventually led to his side’s narrow loss.
- Sharks lock Ettienne Oosthuizen’s yellow card for cynical play at a time when the Sharks led 13-6 allowed the Lions back into the game shortly before halftime. Shortly thereafter the Lions scored their opening try from a maul by hooker Malcolm Marx.
- Centre Andre Esterhuizen’s disallowed try in the 26th minute could have taken the game away from the Lions with the Sharks leading 13-3, but the Sharks took a player out off the ball while there was also a forward pass in the movement by Sharks wing Kobus van Wyk.
- Kwagga Smith proved his worth off the bench, making the telling break that led to the Lions winning try. Other replacements like scrumhalf Ross Cronje and hooker Akker van der Merwe also caught the eye.
Lions – Tries: Malcolm Marx, Courtnall Skosan, Jaco Kriel. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalties: Jantjies (4). Drop goal: Andries Coetzee.
Sharks – Tries: Coenie Oosthuizen, Kobus van Wyk. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (4). Drop goal: Bosch.