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Sharks hunt down Lions

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The Sharks fought back to beat the Lions 31-24 at Kings Park, Durban.

The Durbanites clawed back a 10-point halftime deficit, scoring 20 points to three in the last quarter to break a seven-match losing streak to the Lions.

Defeat for the Lions is their first in 22 derbies, but they still sit top of the South African Conference.

Both teams shared three tries apiece, but it was the steady boot of Robert du Preez, who collected 16 points, that made the difference.

Swys de Bruin’s side led 11-21 at the break after three tries by Ruan Combrink, Cyle Brink and Kwagga Smith.

Du Preez and his brother Dan du Preez accounted for all the Sharks first-half points, with Dan getting on the scoreboard with a try.

Both defences held firm in an entertaining second 40 minutes, but it was the home team who increased the tempo and intensity with tries from Andre Esterhuizen and Lwazi Mvovo.

The victory keeps the Sharks in the hunt for the Super Rugby playoffs.

Sharks start hot.

Robert Du Preez’s side came out strong, scoring in the third minute from a powerful drive. It was Dan du Preez who got up with the ball to give his side a 5-nil lead.

It was about as good as it would get for the home side in the opening 40 minutes, other than two Rob du Preez Jnr penalties.

The Lions will not kick for goal very often unless a game tight.

With the Sharks giving away penalties, Jantjies kicked to the corner and the Lions looked to their lineout to set a platform.

It did just that after a throw to Warren Whitely, making his long-awaited return from injury, set up Combrink’s try.

The Joburg men shifted the ball neatly through the hands and “the Punisher” waltzed over in the corner.

The Sharks did retake the lead with one of Rob du Preez’s two penalties, but it was short-lived.

Another powerful burst from a Lions forward, this time Brink, who ran down the sideline and bounced a defender for his team’s second, set the visitors away.

They controlled the rest of the half, dominating the scrums. One such phase went almost seven minutes camped under the Sharks’ posts.

Whitely thought he had put Jantjies away under the sticks, but the try was not awarded because of a forward pass.

The home side was living dangerously. But they hung in.

Du Preez reduced the scores to three just before the end of the half, but the Lions hit back with a sucker punch.

Ross Cronje sent Malcolm Marx away down the sideline. The tank of a hooker ran over a defender, then put Smith away for the score, giving the visitors a cushion at the break.

Sharks improve after the break.

The second-half was open, but both sides could not break the others’ resistance.

Opportunities went begging.

However, the game burst back into life in the 59th-minute when Esterhuizen scored his team’s second try in the corner.

It sparked a sensational series of plays that saw the home team collect 20 points.

Jantjies kicked a penalty, giving his side a 21-24 lead after another Du Preez penalty had levelled the scores on 63 minutes.

Two minutes after Jantjies’ successful kick, Mvovo raced away down the touchline for the Sharks’ third score.

A fourth penalty gave the hosts a seven-point cushion, one the Lions could not overhaul.

Sharks versus Lions video highlights.

Final score: Sharks 31 (11) Lions 24 (21)

Scorers

Sharks
Tries – D. du Preez, Esterhuizen, Mvovo
Pen – R. du Preez (4)
Con – R. du Preez (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Lions
Tries – Combrink, Brink, Smith
Pen – Jantjies
Con – Jantjies (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 1: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 2: Stuart Berry
TMO: Marius Jonker

Teams

Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Marius Louw, 23Jacobus Van Wyk.

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrink, 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 Dylan Smith.

Replacements: 16 Corné Fourie, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Marnus Schoeman, 22 Nicholas Groom, 23 Courtnall Skosan.

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