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Lions score 50 as Sharks falter in Johannesburg


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Currie Cup, Lions, Original Content, Sharks on 18 Oct 2014 at 16:26
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Golden Lions have booked their place in the Currie Cup final, eclipsing the Sharks with an overwhelming 50-20 victory in Johannesburg.

Marnitz Boshoff, who had an uncharacteristically wayward day with the boot, opened the scoring via a penalty early on, which was finally matched by Lionel Cronje as the match entered its tenth minute. By that stage already, it was clear that the Lions intended to play out the game at a furious pace and already cracks were starting to show for the Sharks, who battled to adapt their defensive technique to the great supporting lines and offloads that are the hallmark of the Lions’ attacking game.

The damn wall broke immediately after Cronje had leveled matters at 3-all, with Sharks discard Howard Mnisi making a mockery of the union’s decision not to offer him a senior contract. His grubber into space behind a flat Sharks line netted him the simplest of tries; Boshoff missed the conversion, but added another penalty soon afterwards to see his side lead 11-3. A yellow card to Sharks flanker Etienne Oosthuizen for a spear tackle followed, yet bizarrely, the visitors managed to actually keep their line intact during the time he was off, with Kyle Cooper in particular responsible for some remarkable turnover penalties with the Lions pressing hard on attack. The writing was on the wall all the same, though, with the Lions enjoying their eponymous share of possession and handing their visitors a real lesson at scrum time and at the breakdown. What little ball the Sharks managed to eke out was either knocked on or kicked away in helter-skelter fashion.

It was just after Oosthuizen’s re-introduction that the Lions made their big move, as tries to Jaco Kriel and Ross Cronje in quick succession stretched their lead to 20 points. At 3-23 behind going into the shed, the platform for a disastrous defeat had been well laid and the Sharks were reeling.

Rugby remains a funny game, though and stung by Brad Macleod-Henderson’s half time haranguing, it was a more purposeful Sharks team that emerged after the break. With more emphasis on retaining possession, aided in no small part by an increasing error count on the Lions’ part as they tried to open the game up more, the Sharks came close to scoring, with Lwazi Mvovo knocking on with the tryline a-begging, before making good with a try a few minutes later. Cronje’s missed conversion was costly and the hoped-for resurgence appeared to fizzle out then, with no further troubling of the scorers even after Lions flanker Kwagga Smit’s sin-binning had them reduced to 14. In fact, it was the shots who scored next, with replacement hooker Akker van der Merwe rounding off a typically flowing move. Boshoff converted and added a penalty for good measure; at 8-33 behind, the Sharks fans had began to leave the stadium, despite there being a good 15 minutes remaining.

Those who did will have missed the purple patch; Tera Mtembu and SP Marais scored within minutes of each other, giving fans just the slightest sniff of a remarkable comeback. Reducing the deficit to 20-33 was as close as they were to come, alas as the tiring Lions found another gear and instead of the Sharks scoring twice in the final ten minutes, as would have been require, it was instead the Lions who added 17 unanswered points, including tries to Ruan Combrinck and captain Warren Whiteley.

The Lions will now play Western Province in next week’s Currie Cup final at Newlands, while the Sharks go back to Durban with their fins properly down.

Golden Lions (50): Tries Howard Mnisi, Jaco Kriel, Ross Cronje, Akker van der Merwe, Ruan Combrinck, Warren Whiteley. Conversions Marnitz Boshoff (4). Penalties Boshoff (4).
Sharks (20): Tries Lwazi Mvovo, Tera Mtembu, SP Marais. Conversion Fred Zeilinga. Penalty Lionel Cronje.



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