Super Rugby

Lions hold firm against sloppy Sharks

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The Lions defeated the Sharks 26-19 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg with Lionel Mapoe bagging a brace.

The seven-try thriller was interspersed with early season errors as both sides struggled to handle the ball.

The set-pieces were mixed, too. The home team were poor in the lineout, the visitors in the scrum.

First-half tries by Mapoe and debutant Aphiwe Dyantyi cancelled out Robert du Preez’s eighth-minute score.

But, the Sharks hit back two minutes’ after the breakthrough Sbu Nkosi, making it a two-point game.

The visitors continued to have trouble in the scrums and it was not long before Mapoe was over for his second, extending the lead to 21-12.

As the game opened up, the teams traded tries; the Sharks through Makazole Mapimpi, and the Lions with Kwagga Smith.

The Lions kept the Sharks at bay, in the last 25 minutes, holding out for their 18th consecutive victory over South African opposition.

The Durban side started with a bang when Robert du Preez opened the scoring.

The flyhalf took the ball flat and shrugged off Elton Jantjies to give his team a 0-7 lead, after his conversion.

However, last season’s finalists hit back with two converted tries in seven minutes.

From a scrappy lineout, the Lions went through some pick-and-goes before spreading the ball wide to Mapoe.

The Springbok centre ghosted through the Sharks defence and Jantjies levelled the scores with his first conversion.

Then came a moment of magic. The Lions, on the halfway-line, sent the ball wide.

Warren Whiteley’s deft handling sent Dyantyi away down the touch-line.

The 23-year-old, who nearly gave up rugby because he was deemed “too small”, dropped the ball onto his left boot, rounded Robert du Preez, gathered and scored.

By now, the Sharks were struggling in the scrums (they won one from six in the first-half) and it was starting to show.

They were, however, strong in the lineouts, winning three of the Lions’ throws.

Lukhanyo Am and Andre Esterhuizen were excellent at holding up Lions attackers, allowing their team to turnover the ball in the mauls.

This kept the home team at bay and the scores stayed at 14-7 until after the break.

Nkosi’s early second-half try brought the Sharks back within two points. The visitors should have had a lead, but Du Preez missed the conversion and a 50th-minute penalty.

Two minutes’ later, Mapoe was in for his second.

Andries Coetzee made the initial break. Franco Mostert went close before the ball was shifted wide to the Springbok centre for his 29th Super Rugby try.

The Sharks would not go away, hitting back immediately when ‘try machine’ Mapimpi gathered Cameron Wright’s long pass and walked in for the score.

Du Preez’s conversion made it 21-19, but the joy was short-lived.

Smith crashed over to extend the Lions’ lead to a goal. Jantjies missed the conversion and two penalties, keeping the Sharks in the hunt.

Twice, they went close, but each time they were repelled by some resolute defending by the home team.

With seconds remaining, the Sharks opted to go wide from a lineout instead of driving and keeping the ball in the tight. It proved to be the wrong call as the Lions held firm.

Final score Lions 26 (14) Sharks 19 (7)

Scorers

Lions
Tries – Mapoe (2), Dyantyi, Smith
Pen –
Con – Jantjies (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Sharks
Tries – R. Du Preez, Nkosi, Mapimpi
Pen –
Con – R. Du Preez (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 2: Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Marius Jonker

Teams

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Francois Mostert, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobus Adriaanse, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rohan Janse Van Rensburg.

Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Juan Schoeman.

Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 John-Hubert Meyer, 18 Tendai Mtawarira, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Daniel du Preez, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Jacobus van Wyk

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