Three tries to zero in the opening half paved the way for the Lions’ emphatic 50-20 Currie Cup semifinal win over the Sharks at Ellis Park today to qualify for next weekend’s Absa Currie Cup final.
In the end they ran in six tries to the three by the Sharks by they never once trailed in the game with the closest the Sharks coming was 3-3 in the 10th minute.
Leading 23-3 at halftime the Sharks fought back well in the second half, but two late tries by wing Ruan Combrinck and captain Warren Whiteley ensured a runaway win for the charging Lions.
After looking to take the foot slightly off the pedal in the opening 20 minutes of the second half, the Lions’ fourth try by reserve hooker Armand van der Merwe and another penalty by flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff, to create a 25-point gap with 15 minutes left at 33-8, summed up the Sharks’ sad story.
Two quick tries by the Sharks through captain Tera Mtembu and fullback SP Marais gave them some hope as they narrowed the margin to 33-20, but another Marnitz Boshoff penalty increased matters yet again to 36-20.
With a halftime lead of 23-3 the Sharks were made to pay heavily for a yellow card to flank Etienne Oosthuizen after a lifting tackle on Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee in the 27th minute when the score was 11-3 to the home team.
The Lions however got a yellow card of their own after replacement loose forward Kwagga Smith got his marching orders in the 56th minute following a lifting tackle on Sharks skipper Tera Mtembu in the 56th minute.
The Sharks fought their way back to 23-8 with their first try by Lwazi Mvovo eight minutes after the break when the Sharks started to enjoy more territory and possession.
The Lions took the early lead 3-0 after just two minutes after hometown centre Howard Mnisi was high tackled and Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff kicked his first penalty.
The Sharks drew level at 3-3 with Sharks flyhalf Lionel Cronje’s first penalty in the 11th minute after fullback SP Marais missed with a long-range attempt just four minutes earlier.
Ellis Park however erupted when Lions centre Mnisi chipped to perfection and collected for a 8-3 lead and even though Boshoff pushed the conversion wide, he added another penalty in the 18th minute to see the Lions going further ahead at 11-3.
But it was a blitzkrieg of two tries by explosive flanker Jaco Kriel and scrumhalf Ross Cronje which took the wind out of the Sharks’ sails to open up a demanding 20-point lead at the break.