Du Preez treasures first victory over Lions

Sun, 13 Aug 2017 06:30
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REACTION: The Sharks' victory over the Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday was their first since 2014 over the Johannesburg-based team. Josh Isaacson reports

The 47-31 victory propelled the Sharks to the top of the Currie Cup table, with 20 points from five matches played, which includes four wins and one defeat.

Making the victory that much sweeter for Sharks coach Robert du Preez was the fact that it was the first time he had led the Sharks to victory over the Lions. 

Du Preez has been in charge of the Sharks Currie Cup team since 2016 and he only started coaching the Super Rugby team in 2017. 

During Du Preez's time in charge of the Sharks, the 2013 Currie Cup champions have lost one Currie Cup match and two Super Rugby matches against the Lions.

The Sharks most recent match against the Lions, prior to their victory at Ellis Park on Saturday, ended in heartbreak as they were knocked out of the 2017 Super Rugby tournament after a 21-23 defeat to the Lions at Ellis Park in July.

Speaking to reporters after the game on Saturday, Du Preez said that his first-ever victory as a coach over the Golden Lions at Ellis Park will live long in the minds for him and the players. 

"As a coach, I've never won here [Ellis Park], it's fantastic," Du Preez pointed out. 

It looked as if history was about to repeat itself and Du Preez was destined to lose four out of four matches against the Lions - as coach of the Sharks, after the Sharks were forced to play catch-up trailing 12-31 with 51 minutes of the game played.

However, the turning point came in the 51st minute when Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee was shown a red card for kicking Sharks flank Jacques Vermeulen in the face.

The Sharks scored 35 unanswered points following the red card and Du Preez commented that the red card was just punishment for Coetzee's actions.

"It looked bad on TV, there was a kick in the face and I don't think it's going to go down well," said Du Preez.

The Sharks are now full of confidence after winning four back-to-back Currie Cup matches since their Round One defeat against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in July.

The Sharks have a bye this week before they play Western Province in Cape Town on August 26 and Du Preez further added that the Sharks will be looking to continue their fine run of form after their bye.

"We got a bye now and then we are playing Province down there, so we want to build on the momentum we've now created - the last three games in eight days, it was tough.

"I think the boys handled it well," explained Du Preez.

By Josh Isaacson, at Ellis Park

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Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 12 10 0 2 47
Western Province 12 7 0 5 37
Golden Lions 12 6 0 6 35
Blue Bulls 12 5 0 7 32
Free State Cheetahs 12 6 0 6 31
Pumas 12 4 0 8 27
Griquas 12 4 0 8 26