Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer


Mapimpi hat-trick leads Sharks to URC win over Lions

The two sides were locked in a thrilling battle until the final whistle.


The Lions were outscored in a 47-37 defeat to the Sharks in a thrilling United Rugby Championship match at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Sharks scored six tries to the Lions’ five, with man-of the-match Makazole Mapimpi running in a hat-trick in his first outing in the competition.

Both sides made a host of errors which their opponents were able to capatalise on, and while the Sharks just managed to be the more clinical team, the Lions can be proud of a strong performance that saw them in the game right until the final whistle.

The Sharks got on the board first with an early penalty to flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain, but the hosts then hit back with two quick tries to fly into the lead.

First, from a Sharks knock-on, flyhalf Fred Zeilinga stepped into their 22m and put scrumhalf Andre Warner away for a converted try. Three minutes later, from a lineout on the halfway line, the Lions attacked, with right wing Rabz Maxwane chipping ahead for outside centre Wandisile Similane to kick it over the tryline and dot down.

The Sharks then hit back themselves with two quick tries, with Lukhanyo Am assisting both as he first put Aphelele Fassi in for a converted try and then from broken play put in a grubber for Mapimpi to chase and score his first.

The back and forth then continued as Zeilinga slotted two penalties to put the Lions up 18-15 after 29 minutes.

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The final 10 minutes of the half then belonged to the Sharks as they mauled hooker Kerron van Vuuren over in the 33rd minute, before a counter attack just before half-time saw Mapimpi in space, stepping past the last defender and scoring, with Chamberlain adding the extras for a solid half-time lead.

The second half then started similarly to the first with an early Chamberlain penalty, before the Lions hit back with a converted try as Ruben Schoeman crashed over, bringing them back into the match at 30-25 after 50 minutes.

Five minutes later the Sharks put in a grubber that Maxwane tried to hoof clear, only to kick it straight to Mapimpi as a gift for his hat-trick, with Chamberlain’s conversion and a penalty from his replacement Joaquin Bonilla putting them 40-25 ahead after 57 minutes.

The Lions, however, wouldn’t let go and fought back gallantly as left wing Edwill van der Merwe dived over in the corner and replacement scrumhalf Morne van den Berg sniped over, making it 40-37 with 10 minutes to play.

But the Sharks had the final say as Am scored a controversial last-minute try in the corner, with Bonilla slotting the conversion to give them an impressive win on the Highveld.

Scorers

Lions – Tries: Andre Warner, Wandisile Simelane, Ruben Schoeman, Edwill van der Merwe, Morne van den Berg. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (2), Tiaan Swanepoel. Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (2)

Sharks – Tries: Aphelele Fassi, Makazole Mapimpi (3), Kerron van Vuuren, Lukhanyo Am. Conversions: Boeta Chamberlain (3), Joaquin Bonilla. Penalties: Boeta Chamberlain (2), Joaquin Bonilla

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