The Lions narrowly edged out the Sharks by 19-14 in the first match of the #SuperHeroSunday pre-season event in Cape Town on Sunday.
Here were the talking points of the early season hit-out.
Under pressure Boks show promise
Warren Whiteley and Elton Jantjies are household names at Ellis Park, but that’s not quite the case at national level.
Question marks still hover above the experienced duo, whom many feel still haven’t shown their best in the Green-and-Gold.
However, judging on this admittedly flaky 80 minutes, they’ll continue to repay Rassie Erasmus’ faith in them.
Whiteley in particular looked sharp, not only showing a willingness to be a link in attack, but also contributing his pound of flesh in the collisions.
Jantjies was nimble and composed, launching a delightful chip ahead for Courtnall Skosan’s try.
The No 10 jersey isn’t fitting Curwin (yet)
Given the consternation that it’s caused in the Sharks’ camp – assistant coach Dick Muir left because of it – there was much interest in Curwin Bosch’s start at flyhalf.
There had been much unhappiness about the 21-year-old not playing more regularly in the position last season, at least on a rotational basis with Robert du Preez jr.
Unfortunately, the youngster’s familiar frailties on defence was exposed again on occasion, suggesting that the status quo will remain in 2019.
Balance will be key for the Lions
There was much enterprise from South Africa’s leading franchise in terms of playing their trademark expansive game, yet it was rather revealing that they found a foothold in this game once they played a bit more of a percentage game.
The Lions have been good in scoring tries from set-pieces in the past as well as mauls though Malcolm Marx’s try, which featured patient phase play from close quarters.
It showcased versatility and will stand them in good stead, especially given that they have been criticised in the past for sometimes lacking balance.
Sharks need to find their extra gear
The Durbanites are a settled, accomplished unit under Robert du Preez snr and never looked out of contention at any stage.
But their hard work still isn’t being translated into points.
Numerous opportunities were left unused, continuing a trend that has been apparent for two years now in Super Rugby.
The Sharks are going to have to find a cutting edge on attack, otherwise they’ll simply remain competitive, instead of truly dangerous.
Lions – Tries: Malcolm Marx, Courtnall Skosan, Sylvian Mahuza. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2).
Sharks – Tries: Makazole Mapimpi, Akker van der Merwe Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2).