Lions coaching boss Ivan van Rooyen called for a strong finish to their season and his players delivered with a powerful showing against the Sharks in their final Currie Cup match of the season in Durban on Saturday.
Out of the United Rugby Championship (the Lions finished 11th), the Lions had also struggled in the Currie Cup with a young team, but on Saturday they won their second game in a row, edging the Sharks 38-29.
It followed on from their win against Western Province the week before.
It must be said though the Lions included their URC players in their Currie Cup team in the last two weeks.
But while the visitors dominated the match in Durban on Saturday, their clash didn’t start well as they slipped to a 10-0 deficit inside four minutes when the Sharks knocked over an early penalty and scored a converted try by Thembelani Bholi.
The Lions though hit back in style through two converted tries by rising centre Henco van Wyk to lead 14-10 after 20 minutes.
The ding-dong match then swung the way of the Sharks when the Lions lost scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba to the sin-bin and the home team scored two late second half tries through hooker Jason Alexander to lead 22-14 at the break.
The Lions’ stronger and more experienced pack then asserted their dominance on the Sharks by winning two scrum penalty tries at the start of the second half to get their team back into the contest and when lock Ruben Schoeman crashed over from close range in the 56th minute the visitors led 35-22.
The Sharks, desperate to pick up a few bonus points no matter the final result, hit back through a converted try by centre Marnus Potgieter to make it a six-point game.
Lions No 10 Tiaan Swanepoel though knocked over a penalty to give his side a nine-point buffer, leaving the Sharks with no choice but to kick a penalty to pick up an additional bonus point at the death.
Sharks: Tries: Bholi, Alexander (2), Potgieter; Conversions: Bonilla (3); Penalties: Bonilla (2)
Lions: Tries: Van Wyk (2), Penalty try (2), Schoeman; Conversions: Swanepoel (3); Penalty: Swanepoel