The Lions, last year’s Super Rugby losing finalists, kick off their 2018 Super Rugby campaign at home in Johannesburg against the Sharks.
The Lions have won the last six Super Rugby matches against the Sharks who last tasted victory over the Johannesburg side in 2015.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
1.00: PEEEEP! We are underway in the City of Gold.
3.00: The Lions win a scrum-penalty after a big scrum.
5.00: It’s a small crowd in Joburg, which is strange because the Lions have made back-to-back Super Rugby finals and are undefeated in 17 games against South African opposition.
6.00: The Sharks have won two of the Lions’ lineouts.
7.00: They win the penalty and kick to the corner. It will be a driving maul.
8.00: TRY Robert du Preez! The flyhalf beats Elton Jantjies and dots down under the post. 0-5
9.00: CONVERSION Du Preez! 0-7
12.00: Lukhanyo Am steals the ball and the Sharks win the scrum.
14.00: Ruan Botha is penalised for sealing off the ruck, and Jantjies clears.
16.00: Another MASSIVE scrum by the Lions. They bulldozed the Sharks and will kick to the corner. A demolished scrum is a beautiful thing.
17.00: TRY Lionel Mapoe! The centre ghosts through the Sharks defence for his 28th Super Rugby try. He held his depth, was patient, then sped through the gap. It came from a scrappy lineout, but some good ball retention and quick recycling: 5-7
18.00: CONVERSION is good from Jantjies: 7-7
21.00: The Lions have all the momentum, now. They are making metres.
22.00: TRY Aphiwe Dyantyi! That is magic by the debutant. He beats the outside defender, puts in a little grubber, rounds Du Preez, gathers and scores. Wow! 12-7
24.00: CONVERSION Jantjies! 14-7
25.00: This has been some turnaround by the home team; they’ve scored 14 unanswered points since Du Preez’s early try.
26.00: Sbu Nkosi has not started well. His clearance is off the side of his boot and gains little ground.
28.00: That is great from the Sharks. Du Preez and Am tackle Andries Coetzee, release and steal the ball, winning the turnover. They have grasped the new breakdown laws.
30.00: It’s that man Am, again. Together with Andre Esterhuizen, they hold up Harold Vorster and win the scrum. However, Cameron Wright’s feed into the scrum is skew and the Sharks are pinged with a short-arm penalty.
32.00: Another unforced error by the visitors. Philip van der Walt tries to transfer the ball in the maul, but it is lost forward.
34.00: Esterhuizen wins another turnover, holding up a Lions attacker in the tackle. But, it is another scrum for the Sharks. They need to get out of the danger zone, here. They are zero from four scrums: madness.
36.00: The Sharks, finally, wins their own feed and Du Preez launches a huge kick and clears the danger.
38.00: It’s razzle-dazzle from the Sharks as they go down the sideline. There was four offloads, two from out the back-door and a no-look reverse by Jacques Vermeulen. Stephan Lewies is down, as is a Lions player.
40.00: The scrum has been reset three times. The hooter sounds.
42.00: Oh dear! The Sharks are bulldozed, again. That is one scrum from six in the opening 40 minutes.
The half-time score was Lions 14 Sharks 7
41.00: PEEEEP! We are back underway in Johannesburg. The Sharks need to sort out their scrums or this game is as good as over. The Lions will want to clean up their lineouts and ball retention in the mauls.
42.00: TRY Sbu Nkosi! What a response by the visitors after the break. The winger breaks a tackle, steps up and dives over in the corner: 14-12
43.00: MISS! Du Preez hits the post: 14-12
46.00: The Lions win a penalty, go quickly from inside their 22 before winning another. Jantjies clears and the home team have a lineout on the opposition’s 10.
48.00: Some clumsy work at the breakdown sees the Sharks lose another ball forwards. They have been poor in this regard.
49.00: FINALLY! The Sharks win a scrum penalty. It’s that man Beast Mtwarira, off the bench, who does the trick. Du Preez calls for the tee.
50.00: MISS! The Sharks 10 misses a sitter; that’s five points left out on the field in what is a close game: 14-12
51.00: Malcolm Marx wins the penalty at the ruck; he is sensational.
52.00: TRY! It’s a double for Mapoe. 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: 19-12
53.00: CONVERSION is good from Jantjies: 21-12
55.00: TRY! The Sharks hit back immediately. Makazole Mapimpi walks in after Wright’s long, lofted pass: 21-17
56.00: CONVERSION is good by Du Preez: 21-19
57.00: The visitors are still in this.
59.00: TRY Kwagga Smith! The Blitzbok legend was tackled, but not held. He rolled over to score his team’s fourth: 26-19
60.00: MISS! Jantjies can’t add the extras: 26-19
64.00: ANOTHER MISS by Jantjies as his long-range penalty is short: 26-19
66.00: Both teams have missed a penalty and conversion, each.
68.00: The Lions win the penalty from their lineout. Jantjies kicks to the opposition’s 22.
70.00: We are entering the last 10 minutes; the Sharks are starting to feel the altitude, which will have more of an effect in the early season.
72.00: The Lions are starting to play in the right areas and are controlling the game’s tempo.
73.00: MISS! Jantjies misses from in front and the Sharks are still alive: 26-19
76.00: The Lions win the maul after being stuck on their line. Great defence.
77.00: Oh boy! The Sharks win the scrum-penalty and kick to the corner. They have to get their maul right.
79.00: Another held-up maul. The Sharks have thrown away a great chance of securing a draw.
80.00: Time is up, the Sharks attack. No! They lose the ball forwards, on the Lions’ try-line and the game is done.
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The final score is Lions 26 (14) Sharks 19 (7)
Tries – Mapoe (2), Dyantyi, Smith
Con – Jantjies (3)
Tries – R. Du Preez, Nkosi, Mapimpi
Con – R. Du Preez (2)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 2: Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Marius Jonker
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