Super Rugby

Lions edge Sharks in epic South African derby




The Lions came from 16-6 down to beat the Sharks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg in a classic South African derby.

Jaco Kriel scored with two minutes remaining to break the visitors’ resistance and continue his team’s unbeaten run in Egoli, place of gold.

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The Sharks led by three after an intense first 40 minutes. But, when Etienne Oosthuizen was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle, the game turned.

The Lions scored 14 unanswered points with the extra man, and Lwazi Mvovo’s try was chalked off because of the lock forward’s neck-roll.

Elton Jantjies kicked 16 points but was outshone by Curwin Bosch, who matched the Bok flyhalf and kicked a drop-goal for a match haul of 19 points.

The Sharks will leave Johannesburg with a losing bonus-point but will feel that they didn’t have the rub of the green after some contentious refereeing calls.

Bosch opened the scoring with a third-minute penalty and soon, the Sharks were 10 points up after Coenie Oosthuizen charged over, à la Richard Bands and Bosch converted from close range.

It started with a break in midfield by Kobus van Wyk. The wing, running an angle, beat the Lions rush defence, slipped Jacques van Rooyen’s tackle, drew Courtnall Skosan and released the prop inside the 22.

Oosthuizen carried the covering Warren Whiteley with him as he tried to bring down the big man.

Jantjies and the young flyhalf traded penalties to make it 3-13 to the visiting team, who were all over the Lions.

Johan Ackermann’s men battled the white tide, hanging on just long enough to capitalise on the game-changing refereeing calls by Jaco van Heerden.

Mvovo scored in the corner but, Van Heerden went to the TMO and his assistant, Jaco Peyper to check for a dangerous tackle by Etienne Oosthuizen.

The lock was adjudged to have performed a “neck-roll” on the defending Lion and the try was disallowed and the hosts awarded a penalty.

Bosch launched a massive 50-metre dropped goal to extend his team’s lead to 13 points after Jantjies had slotted his second penalty, minutes earlier.

The game turned when Etienne Oosthuizen was sent to the sin-bin for a second dangerous tackle. During the forward’s time in the bin, the Lions scored two converted tries, either side of the break.

A minute before half-time, from a lineout, the Lions set up a driving maul and Marx crashed over to reduce the scores to 13-16, after the conversion.

The Lions came out firing for the second period, running the Sharks off their feet and using their extra man advantage, expertly.

It started from Faf de Klerk’s pass to Johan Janse van Rensburg, who on the run, bust a tackle and draws the defender before putting the winger away. Skosan was tackled short but crawled over.

All the momentum had swung from sharks to Lions, as the white heat became a red tide. The visitors were reeling under the continuous pressure from Ackerman’s men.

Andries Coetzee added a drop-kick of his own to push the Lions into a 23-16 lead after 64 minutes.

But, the Sharks did not give in. They attacked wide, stretching the Joburg side, and Jean-Luc du Preez collected a shallow pass, took the ball to the gain line before sending Kobus van Wyk over in the corner.

It’s helter-skelter at Ellis Park as Bosch tied the scores at 23-all going into the final stages of a pulsating derby.

The Springbok flyhalf and Bosch swapped penalties before the 19-year-old, kicked an audacious 65-metre penalty – albeit at altitude – which, after the ball crossed the crossbar, travelled nearly 70 metres.

This was an awakening akin to Frans Steyn’s introduction to Test rugby, where he attempted – and made – 50-metre drop-kicks at Twickenham in 2006.

South African supporters, no matter who they support in Super Rugby, will have loved watching this rough diamond shine in the City of Gold.

However, Jantjies, once again, levelled the scores with five minutes to play. Who would blink first?

It was the Sharks, caught between chasing the win, yet trying to stop the hosts’ constant attacking threat.

By now, Sevens’ specialist, Kwagga Smith was on and, in a moment of Blitzbokke magic, the utility player stepped two defenders and put Kriel away for the match-winning try in the corner.

This was a classic, played out to a raucous home support, who cheered the spirited comeback by die leeus.

They are now unbeaten in their past nine games at Ellis Park and sit top of their conference with five wins from six.

Final score is Lions 34 (13) Sharks 29 (16)


Tries – Marx, Skosan, Kriel
Pen – Jantjies (4)
Con – Jantjies (2)
Drop – Coetzee
Cards –

Tries – C. Oosthuizen, Van Wyk,
Pen – Bosch (3)
Con – Bosch (2)
Drop – Bosch
Cards – Yellow (E. Oosthuizen, 39th minute)

Match Officials
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Ref 1: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 2: AJ Jacobs
TMO: Johan Greeff



15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Harold Vorster, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Dillon Smit.


15 Garth April, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Lubabalo Mtembu (captain), 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit.

Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Inny-Christian Rad

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