The Sharks went into their match against the Lions needing a bonus point win to maintain their hopes of making the Rainbow Cup final and coach Sean Everitt is an apostle of attacking, positive rugby. But there were times when the helter-skelter Sharks seemed destined to get four tries but lose the game and so land on 12 log points, ensuring the Bulls cannot be caught in the last round next weekend.
In the end, the Sharks did eventually repel a gutsy Lions side in the last 10 minutes to register a 33-21 win and they can still win the competition if they beat the Bulls with a bonus point next weekend and don’t allow their visitors any log points.
The Sharks scored three tries in the first half but were still only 19-14 ahead at the break. Their first two tries came through lineout drives and were scored by hooker Kerron van Vuuren.
But their third try would have thrilled their coach and was made by outstanding wing Makazole Mapimpi, the World Cup star who rather lorded it over everyone else on the field with a majestic display.
The Lions won a turnover but Sharks fullback Anthony Volmink fielded their kick downfield and had a dart, before passing to Mapimpi, who exploded through a tiny gap, and found scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse, who miraculously held off several Lions defenders in mid-air, seemingly levitating as he popped the pass to eighthman Phepsi Buthelezi, another chief among the stars on the field, to score.
It was typical of the Lions, however, that they stayed in the game with a try by loose-forward Len Massyn in the sixth minute of extra time.
Mapimpi scored himself eight minutes into the second half and this was just a stunning individual effort.
The pass out wide had gone to ground so the Lions defence was set, but Mapimpi stepped and then burst, taking five defenders out of the game as he scored an exceptional try to stretch the lead to 24-14.
Last October, the 30-year-old’s incredible off-field story was highlighted by the Chasing the Sun documentary, but in his current form he looks like being a sensation on the field in the British and Irish Lions series.
The Lions came back again with a rolling maul try by hooker PJ Botha, but the knockout blow by the Sharks came when replacement flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain regathered his own lovely little dink over the top and passed into space for Volmink to score.
Lions – Tries: Andre Warner, Len Massyn, PJ Botha. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (3).
Sharks – Tries: Kerron van Vuuren (2), Phepsi Buthelezi, Makazole Mapimpi, Anthony Volmink. Conversions: Manie Libbok (3), Boeta Chamberlain.