Johannesburg’s Lions have finished the regular Super Rugby season as the first placed team after they beat the Sharks 10-27 in Durban.
The Crusaders had led the standings from the opening round but fell to the Hurricanes earlier in the final round which allowed the Lions to overtake them a week before the play offs.
The Lions victory means that the Lions finish and first place and as a result they will host the Sharks in next week’s Super Rugby quarter finals stage.
Should the Lions make it through to the final they will host the final as reward for finishing the regular season on top of the standings.
The Sharks went into the match knowing that should they beat the Lions they would face the daunting task of having to travel to Christchurch New Zealand or lose and play the Lions again in Johannesburg.
The loss for the Sharks affectively means that they will have a quarter-final without having to travel outside of South Africa which will give them extra time to prepare and without the usual travel fatigue.
The Sharks took an early lead with a penalty from Garth April and approached the half time mark holding a small lead on the Lions.
However the Lions held on to the ball after the siren and ran in their second try as Andries Coetzee crossed for the visiting side.
Earlier Malcolm Marx scored the Lions opening try which with Coetzee’s try gave the Lions a 10-13 lead at the break.
In the second half the Lions continued the scoring and when Jaco Kriel scored in the 63rd minute the Johannesburg side had scored 14 unanswered points.
While the Lions have comfortably been the South African group’s best team and have shown the most on attack they have yet to play any New Zealand teams in 2017 which could be their undoing if they progress to the Semi-final or final as it was for the Stormers last season.
Final Score Sharks 10 (10) Lions 27 (13)
Tries – K.van Wyk
Pen – G.April
Con – G.April
Tries – M.Marx, A. Coetzee, J.Kriel
Pen – E.Jantjies 4
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 1:AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 2: Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO : Johan Greeff
15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 S’busiso Nkosi, 10 Garth April, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt (c), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Jeremy Ward
1. Jacques van Rooyen , 2. Malcolm Marx , 3. Ruan Dreyer , 4. Andries Ferreira , 5. Franco Mostert , 6. Jaco Kriel © , 7. Albertus “Kwagga” Smith , 8. Ruan Ackermann , 9. Ross Cronje , 10. Elton Jantjies , 11. Courtnall Skosan , 12. Harold Vorster , 13. Lionel Mapoe , 14. Ruan Combrinck , 15. Andries Coetzee ,
Replacements : 16. Akker vd Merwe , 17. Corne Fourie , 18. Johannes Jonker , 19. Lourens Erasmus , 20. Cyle Brink , 21. Faf de Klerk , 22. Rohan Janse van Rensburg , 23. Sylvian Mahuza