The Sharks' hopes of making the Super Rugby play-offs hit a snag on Saturday as they recorded a 30-all draw against the Lions.
The Sharks' dreams of making the Super Rugby play-offs hit a snag on Saturday as they recorded a 30-all draw against the Lions in Jo'burg.
In a game that saw the men from Durban only really get into their stride following half-time, it was too little too late as the Lions held on.
Up 20-9 at the break and looking like claiming a memorable win over their South African rivals thanks to a brace of tries from Cobus Grobbelaar and the boot of Butch James, the hosts then felt the full force of the title-hunting Sharks.
Led by the guile of Patrick Lambie and power of replacement hooker Bismarck du Plessis, they set about clawing their way back into the contest. And that they did as the fly-half, JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo brought them level on 77 minutes.
The Sharks opened the scoring through Lambie kicking a penalty in a closely fought first quarter.
After equalising through James, the Lions took charge of the match and dominated territorially. They were quick to add three more as the Sharks struggled to adapt to the pace.
The hosts crossed on the 30-minute mark when Grobbelaar was shoved over the line by his pack. James converted to give the Lions a ten-point lead with half-time in sight.
Through some outstanding midfield defence by the likes of centre Alwyn Hollenbach and skipper Doppies La Grange, the Sharks were kept at bay and secured only three more points before the interval.
The Lions did, however, have the last say as the sides headed into the tunnel.
Their second try of the match was the result of a well planned move involving prop Patric Cilliers who delivered a well timed pass to full-back Jaco Taute. Taute burst through the Sharks defence before sending it wide to Jano Vermaak, who not only held on to the pass directed at his feet, but also managed to beat Mvovo to the line.
The Lions picked up where they left off after the break by adding ten points to their 20-9 half-time lead. Grobbelaar was again in the thick of things as his team-mates pushed him over the try-line from an attacking line-out.
Eventually Lambie slipped through the Lions' outstretched defence to put the Sharks right back in the match at 30-16.
Then, while the Lions were trying their best to stop a trademark Sharks counter, James went in high when trying to take Keegan Daniel down and was subsequently sin-binned.
From that point onwards the Sharks took control, while the Lions relied heavily on their tacklers to keep the visitors out. Du Plessis and centre Adi Jacobs were menacing.
Their next try was an easy run-in by Springbok wing Pietersen, while the most important of the match came just as the Lions thought they had it in the bag.
With little more than three minutes left on the clock, Mvovo raced over for the five-pointer that brought his side within two points of drawing level. Lambie, who had not missed a single kick all night, slotted the conversion to draw them level.
Tries: Grobbelaar 2
Con: James 3
Pen: James 3
Tries: Lambie, Pietersen, Mvovo
Con: Lambie 2
Pen: Lambie 3
Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Dylan Des Fountain, 13 Doppies la Grange (c), 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Butch James, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 David de Villiers, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Michael Killian.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jacques Botes, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Eugene van Staden, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Alistair Hargreaves, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Frederic Michalak, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Adrian Jacobs.
Referee: Mark Lawrence