Irresistible Lions crush Sharks

Date published: October 18 2014

The Lions ran the Sharks ragged to secure a 50-20 victory in Johannesburg on Saturday and book their place in the Currie Cup Final.

The Lions ran the Sharks ragged to secure a 50-20 victory in Johannesburg on Saturday and book their place in the Currie Cup Final.

The men from Jo’burg scored a scintillating six tries while their opponents had only three second-half five-pointers to show for their efforts.

Although the Sharks did well to fight back at the end, most of the damage was sustained in the first 40 minutes during which they were only able to score three points.

As expected, the Lions were full of running from the get-go and it took only a few minutes before they were able to open their account when Sharks skipper Lubabalo Mtembu conceded a penalty for a high tackle.

Unsurprisingly the Sharks would look to try and dictate the pace of the match, and through sound tactical kicking they were able to level the scores in the tenth minute through fly-half Lionel Cronje.

From the returning kick-off the Lions nearly snuck through when Courtnall Skosan snatched the ball in mid-air, but he was not supported in the tackle and the evergreen Jacques Botes retained possession for his side.

Botes was, however, unable to hold on to the ball and the Lions forwards piled in and from the turnover, Howard Mnisi obliged by putting a kick through which he collected for his team’s first try of the match.

Mnisi proved to be a key player throughout the contest.

Boshoff later added three more with the boot and although the Sharks would have been concerned trailing 11-3 early in the match, their biggest headache was the sheer dominance their hosts enjoyed at the scrums.

With very little going their way, scrum-half Conrad Hoffmann gave his side a chance to build some pressure when he drilled a kick into the corner, but the Lions were equally impressive in defence

In what turned out to be a crucial blow against a side with some of the most dangerous loose forwards in the tournament, flanker Etienne Oosthuizen received a yellow card in the 27th minute for a dangerous tackle.

Initially the Sharks did exceptionally well to keep the home side at bay – hooker Kyle Cooper winning a crucial penalty close to his line as his team was able to clear.

But Johan Ackermann’s men had other ideas and again highlighted that they can attack from anywhere on the field.

Their star player this season, Jaco Kriel, scored his ninth try when he was on the receiving end of an inch perfect long pass which allowed him to showcase his pace out wide.

In a rare occurrence Boshoff missed his second conversion of the afternoon, but that would not phase the Lions as they used the little time that remained in the half to extend their lead to 23-3 when Ross Cronje capitalised on some confusion in the Sharks defensive setup.

Trailing by 20 points, the Sharks had no other option but to take more risks and created a perfect scoring opportunity minutes after the break, but Lwazi Mvovo was unable to hold-on to the final pass with the try line begging.

The speedster would make up for his mistake minutes later when he finished in the corner and with the Lions losing flanker Kwagga Smith for 10 minutes after he was adjudged to have taken out Mtembu in mid-air from a defensive line-out, they started gaining some momentum.

To their disappointment, the Mnisi show continued as the centre turned the ball over close to his 22 before offloading to Boshoff who cracked on the pace allowing Akker van der Merwe to effectively make the game safe at 30-8.

Mtembu gave his side some hope of a comeback when he dived over in the 71st minute and SP Marais brought them closer when he found space out wide, but again the Lions were sublime from the retaining kickoff and would run in two more tries, from Ruan Combrinck and inspirational captain Warren Whiteley, as they booked their place in next week’s final.

The scorers:

For Lions:
Tries: Mnisi, Kriel, Cronje, Van der Merwe, Combrinck, Whiteley
Cons: Boshoff 4
Pens: Boshoff 4
Yellow Card: Smith

For Sharks:
Tries: Mvovo, Mtembu, Marais
Con: Zeilinga
Pen: Cronje
Yellow Card: Oosthuizen

Golden Lions: 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Mark Richards, 22 Harold Vorster

Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 S’bura Sithole, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Tera Mtembu (c), 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 JC Astle, 20 Khaya Majola, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Fred Zeilinga.

Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Sieg van Staden