Lions knock Sharks out with second-half rout
MATCH REPORT: The Lions, with a three-try second-half rout, effectively knocked the Sharks out of Currie Cup play-off race.
The Lions, trailing 0-13 after an impressive first-half by the visitors, won 28-16 at Ellis Park on Friday - to book their place in the semifinals.
The Sharks still had a remote chance of sneaking into the play-offs.
However, Western Province sneaked a fortuitous 30-28 win over the Boland Cavaliers at Newlands to seal the Sharks' fate.
It was certainly a game of two halves.
Not only were the Sharks tactically more astute, they also won the collisions and showed greater energy on defence in the first half.
In the scrums, the Sharks also bullied a Lions team renowned for their solid set pieces.
However, whatever was in the water that was given to the Lions at the break worked a charm
They stood their ground in the scrums, started to win the collisions and won a myriad of turnovers at the breakdown.
The Sharks, in turn, lost their cool - had two men sent to the sin-bin at crucial stages - and also lost the game.
The kick-off was delayed by about 10 minutes, after the Sharks got caught up in a typical Johannesburg traffic jam.
However, the Sharks dominated the early exchanges, winning a scrum penalty after also holding up a Lions maul just five metres out, and opening the scoring in the 10th minute with a Curwin Bosh penalty.
The first try came in the 21st minute - Sharks scrumhalf Michael Claassens sniping around the blind side after the visitors had pushed the Lions off their own ball. Bosch added the conversion - 10-0.
Lions flyhalf Jaco van der Walt missed a couple of penalty shots at goal, before scrumhalf was denied a try by the TMO.
That was the only 50-50 ruling that went the way of a Sharks team riding their luck - despite being warned on more than one occasion for their lack of discipline.
Bosch missed a chance to stretch the lead three minutes out from the half-time break and another from inside his half right on the hooter - leaving the score 10-0 at the break.
Bosch opened the second-half scoring, with a penalty in the 45th minute, before Lions captain Albertus Smith showed his Sevens skills to get his team on the board with a great individual try. Van der Walt's conversion made it 7-13.
The Sharks' poor discipline cost them a man in the bin - Francois Kleinhans yellow-carded for a tip-tackle.
Van der Walt and Bosch traded penalties, before Howard Mnisi got the Lions' second try from a quick-tap penalty. Van der Walt's conversion was wide of the mark, but a long-range Andries Coetzee got the Lions into the lead for the first time in the 672nd minute.
That became 25-16 in the 70th minute - the Lions launching an attack from another quick-tap penalty and quick hands eventually releasing Sylvian Mahuza for the third try by the home team. Coetzee added the extras.
Coetzee made that 28-16 with a penalty in the 77th minute, as the Sharks discipline let them down again - Andre Esterhuizen spending the last few minutes in the sin bin for a late shoulder charge.
Even though the Sharks through everything at the Lions to secure a losing bonus point and keep their dream alive, but it was to no avail.
Man of the match: Lourens Adriaanse was a monster in the scrums in the first half and Jean-Luc du Preez was very busy in general play. Curwin Bosch made some clever decisions and showed great skills. Then there was Andre Esterhuizen - strong in the tackle, stripping the ball, carrying strongly and generally a physical monster. However, he spoilt a good game with his lack of discipline that saw him sin-binned late in the game. The Lions' forwards were well-served by Bobby de Wee and Ruan Ackermann. Centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg came into his own in the second half and Andries Coetzee ran with purpose and kicked crucial goals. However, our award goes to Lions captain Albertus Smith - who scored the try that got his team back in the game and was the spark that got the team going when it appeared to be a lost cause.
For the Golden Lions:
Tries:Smith, Mnisi, Mahuza
Cons: Van der Walt, Coetzee
Pens: Van der Walt, Coetzee 2
For the Sharks:
Pens: Bosch 3
Yellow cards: Francois Kleinhans (Sharks, 49 - foul play, tip tackle), Andre Esterhuizen (Sharks, 76 - foul play, late shoulder charge)
Golden Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Koch Marx, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Albertus Smith (captain), 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 Ruan Ackermann, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Jean-Pierre du Preez, 19 Fabian Booysen, 20 Dillon Smit, 21 Howard Mnisi, 22 Sylvian Mahuza.
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Rhyno Smith, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Inny-Christian Radebe, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 John-Hubert Meyer, 18 Stephan Lewies/Jean Droste, 19 Khaya Majola, 20 Stefan Ungerer, 21 Garth April, 22 Wandile Mjekevu.
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Stephan Geldenhuys Stephan
TMO: Willie Vos