Three second-half tries seal the deal in Durban
The Sharks moved to the top of the Currie Cup standings when they demolished the defending champion Golden Lions in Durban on Saturday.
Outscoring the visitors by three tries to two, the Sharks recorded a 30-14 win and are now the only unbeaten team in the competition.
Both teams looked keen to run the ball from the outset, but despite their eager endeavour the execution on both sides were well below par.
The one aspect that did work well for the Lions was their scrum, as they demolished the Sharks time-after-time and won a number of turnovers. In fact their first try, a penalty try, came from one of those monstrous scrums by the Lions pack.
However, the Lions' line-outs were shocking, with a number of throws not straight - costing them valuable possession.
A yellow card to lock Hendrik Roodt also cost the Lions dearly, as the Sharks scored 10 points while he was in the sin bin for a professional foul. And Roodt's lack of discipline cost his team a number of penalties.
Until his indiscretion the Lions held the lead, but they never managed to get their momentum back.
The Sharks scored all three their tries in the second half, after trailing 6-7 at the half-time break.
Sharks centre Meyer Bosman slotted over a penalty in the ninth minute, with a kick that stayed low and just cleared the crossbar, but the home team gave away their lead soon after with a penalty try.
The Lions were given five points after a collapsed scrum in the 16th minute and flyhalf Butch James converted to give the visitors a 7-3 advantage which they held till shortly before the break.
Bosman added another three points from a penalty after 33 minutes, but he missed an opportunity in the dying stages of the opening period as the visitors clung to a 7-6 half-time lead.
Fighting back, the Sharks edged ahead again five minutes after the players returned to the field, with Bosman knocking over his third penalty kick.
Wing S'bura Sithole heaped further pressure on the visiting side when he dived over on the left for the Sharks first try - with half an hour left.
The hosts cemented the lead seven minutes later when Jean Deysel popped the ball over to the side's other wing, Odwa Ndungane, who fumbled it slightly but maintained control to get the ball over the try-line.
Bosman added further points from both tries and the Sharks strengthened their grip on the game.
The Lions, losing momentum, fought to stay in the match and drove over with flank Cobus Grobbelaar touching down, and while James converted, the home side struck back immediately.
Deysel barged over two minutes later and Bosman added another conversion as the Sharks maintained their 16-point margin, which they held for 15 minutes, keeping the Lions at bay until the final whistle.
Man of the match: The Lions' front row, for those monstrous scrums that resulted in a penalty, deserves a mention - Jacobie Adriaanse, Callie Visagie and captain JC Janse van Rensburg. For the rest it was all enthusiasm, wild and wooly enthusiasm. For the Sharks captain Jean Deysel was a tower of strength, Paul Jordaan threaten often in the backline and Charl McLeod was effective at scrumhalf. However, our award goes to Riaan Viljoen - who took an almighty boot to the face when Butch James attempted to hack the ball ahead. He appeared out cold, stumbled around for a bit and was later sent to the 'concussion bin' when the referee feared for his health. Yet, he came back in the second half and produced a sublime showing, mostly playing at fullback.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Sithole, Ndungane, Deysel
Cons: Bosman 3
Pens: Bosman 3
For the Golden Lions:
Tries: Penalty try, Grobbelaar
Cons: James 2
Yellow card: Hendrik Roodt (Golden Lions, 39 - professional foul, killing the ball)
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 S'bura Sithole, 10 Riaan Viljoen, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Jacques Botes, 7 Jean Deysel (captain), 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Jandré Marais, 19. Lubabalo “Tera” Mtembu, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Marius Joubert, 22 Gouws Prinsloo.
Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Joshua Strauss, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (captain).
Replacements: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Guy Cronje, 22 Ruan Combrinck.
Referee: Mark Lawrence
Assistants: Christie du Preez, Blake Beattie
TMO: Deon van Blommenstein