Lions take the points in Durban

Date published: August 22 2015

The Golden Lions retained their unbeaten status in the Currie Cup after claiming a hard-fought 31-16 victory over the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

Tries from Howard Mnisi, Stokkies Hanekom, Courtnall Skosan and Anthony Volmink gave the men from Johannesburg their third successive win of the season, and Odwa Ndungane crossed for the Sharks' only try.

The Sharks did most of the early attacking but the Lions took the lead against the run of play when Mnisi crossed for the opening try after the hosts botched a line-out just outside their 22.

Mnisi pounced on a loose ball at the back of the set-piece, after Monde Hadebe didn't find his jumper, and caught the Sharks defence on the back-foot. The centre booted the ball ahead before regathering and touched down next to the posts before Marnitz Boshoff converted.

The home side then breached the Lions defence on several occasions, with attacks from deep inside their half, but a combination of poor decision making and handling errors meant they had little to show for their efforts. 

The Lions soaked up the pressure and tried to hit on the counter-attack but they too couldn't add to their earlier score. The only other points of the half came via the boot of Joe Pietersen, who slotted two penalties in quick sucession during the final 10 minutes before the half-time break.

Ruan Combrinck opened the scoring in the second half, via the kicking tee, after the hosts were penalised for illegal scrummaging, but Pietersen cancelled out that effort with his third penalty after Jaco Kriel infringed at a ruck.

The Sharks then took the lead when Ndungane dotted down in the right-hand corner after gathering a grubber kick from SP Marais, but the Lions struck back with a well taken try from Hanekom after Ross Cronje laid the groundwork with a sniping break in the build-up.

Boshoff converted, and that try seemd to rejuvenate the Lions, who crossed for their third try in style after another telling break from Cronje, from inside his 22.

Skosan was the beneficary of Cronje's enterprising play and after running onto the scrum-half's pass he still had time to hand off Ndungane before crossing the whitewash.

The hosts seemed demoralised after that score but the Lions weren't done. Volmink came on and scored the visitors' bonus point try after intercepting a wayward pass close to the halfway line to add insult to the Sharks' injury.

The scorers:

For Sharks:
Try: Ndungane
Con: Pietersen
Pens: Pietersen 3

For Golden Lions:
Tries: Mnisi, Hanekom, Skosan, Volmink
Cons: Boshoff 4
Pens: Combrinck

Sharks: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 S'bura Sithole, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Daniel du Preez, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Monde Hadebe, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 18 Dave McDuling, 19 Jean Luc du Preez, 20 Stefan Ungerer, 21 Wandile Mjekevu, 22 SP Marais.

Golden Lions: 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Ruan Dreyer.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Martin Muller, 19 Stephan de Wit, 20 Ricky Schroeder, 21 Alwyn Hollenbach, 22 Anthony Volmink.

Referee: Quinton Immelman