With their powerful pack in menacing form, the Sharks used their opportunities well to beat the Lions 27-17 at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday in a riveting Super Rugby contest.
Despite being on the back foot for significant periods, the hosts showed composure and class at vital stages in repelling a Lions side that made much of the play.
The turning point arrived in the 60th minute when Sharks wing Makazole Mapimpi intercepted close to his own line to run almost the length of the field for a decisive lead after the visitors had hammered away in search of their own score.
Who was the star in this match?
Lions centre Lionel Mapoe was in great form, creating numerous chances on attack as he put immense pressure on the Sharks defence. He scored his side’s first try and went on to play a defining role in their second try scored by flank Cyle Brink. He was cruelly denied a second try 10 minutes from time after a great defensive effort from Mapimpi.
Key moments and themes
- The Sharks laid the platform for their win in the first half, opportunistically taking their chances on the attack while also dominating the tight exchanges. They, a tad surprisingly, hammered the Lions’ normally imposing scrums. The Lions felt the heat and conceded three penalties from the set-piece.
- While they didn’t create much after Curwin Bosch and Dan du Preez’s scores, the Sharks once again showed the value of merely being organised at this level, especially in physical, gritty derbies. It continues the trend of teams winning by focusing on the counterattack in this year’s tournament.
- For all their attacking intent, the Lions can probably be criticised for being a tad one-dimensional in their play – with the exception of Mapoe’s try. Given how they struggled to assert themselves up front, it was strange that they used the rolling maul so often.
- The men from Ellis Park were certainly better and more patient after the turnaround, even going level in the 49th minute. But they lacked the ability to turn pressure into points and were also guilty of not controlling their possession in general, conceding 19 turnovers.
Sharks – Tries: Curwin Bosch, Dan du Preez, Makazole Mapimpi. Conversions: Bosch (3). Penalties: Bosch (2).
Lions – Tries: Lionel Mapoe, Cyle Brink. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty: Jantjies.