Lions Squeeze Past Sharks

The Lions edged out the Sharks 23-21 in their Vodacom Super Rugby clash in Johannesburg on Saturday.  Five minutes into the game the home team surged forward through a break from Faf De Klerk.  From the pressure, the Sharks tackled a player off the ball thus conceding a penalty 38 metres out which Elton Jantjies missed.

After 10 minutes the visitors conceded another penalty which Jantjies slotted.  Just nine minutes later the KZN franchise conceded its third penalty which Jantjies again put over.  Two minutes later Andre Esterhuizen found a break before offloading to Waylon Murray who in turn found Renaldo Bothma who charged over the try line.  Fred Zeilinga kicked the conversion.

Gary Gold’s back line created a good play in the 32nd minute which was concluded when fullback Odwa Ndungane passed to Lwazi Mvovo who sprinted from 40 metres out to cross the try line.  The conversion was successful.  A minute from half-time the hosts produced a try when Jantjies flicked an inside pass to Howard Mnisi who dashed to the tryline and at the break the score stood at 14-11 to Gold’s charges.

In the opening 10 minutes of the second half the Joburg franchise produced two quick tries to take control of the game.  In the 44th minute De Klerk waited for the ball from a ruck, before he sold a dummy to Ndungane, who proceeded to force his way to the line.  Jantjies converted.

Just minutes later Mnisi ran a big angle drawing some defenders.  He passed inside finding Harold Voster.  The big centre sped away from the defence and scored.  Jantjies however missed this conversion.

In the 58th minute Esterhuizen was given a yellow card and sent to the bin for 10 minutes after he had made a reckless late and high tackle.  This was the third high tackle from the Sharks on the day.  With the one man advantage Johan Ackermann’s men pushed back their opponents but rarely failed to use the 70% possession they held at a point in the second half.

In the 78th minute the visitors managed to reach the try line through Thomas Du Toit.  Zeilinga slotted the conversion, providing a nervous last two minutes.  With the Sharks pressing hard to win the match, they won a penalty seven seconds from the end of the match.  With time up Zeilinga was presented with the opportunity to be a hero when from 48 metres out he had an attempt to win it for the Durban side.

He put the distance on his kick but pushed the effort just wide of the posts.  The win makes it five consecutive victories for the Lions.

Lons Match Stats:

Tries – H Mnisi, F De Klerk, H Voster
Pens – E Jantjies (2)
Cons – E Jantjies

Sharks Match Stats:

Tries – R Bothma, L Mvovo
Coins – F Zeilinga (2)
Yellow Cards – A Esterhuizen