Planet Rugby

Sharks take a bite out of Lions

15th March 2008 17:02

Share:

Frans Steyn v Lions

Running man: Frans Steyn tries to find a gap

The Sharks remained undefeated in the Super 14 after running out 16-8 winners in their South African derby against the Lions at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.

It was a courageous effort from the Lions who fought all the way, but just lacked a bit of composure at crucial moments.

Despite only two tries being scored, one in each half, it was an entertaining to-and-fro affair that not even a Highveld thunderstorm could put a damper on.

But the Sharks will leave Johannesburg a disappointed side. They came to Ellis Park looking for, perhaps expecting, a bonus point. They might have scored one wonderfully entertaining try, but they would have hoped to score three more.

The Lions on the other hand will take heart from their efforts. Once again they were unable add to their points tally on the Super 14 table but they weren't far away from beating one of the best sides in the competition.

The locals managed to score a try in the dying moments of the match but will rue to two other wasted opportunities when they managed to cross the Sharks try-line but were unable to put the ball on the grass.

Who would have thought that it would be the Sharks who would make more tackles than their hosts? And they had to make a lot more.

To the credit of last year's defeated finalists, they tackled like the quality side they are. Perhaps even more importantly, and the Lions can learn a valuable lesson here, the Sharks missed very few of those 80 odd tackles.

Far from being outclassed like many had expected, the home side matched the Sharks in the scrums and at the break-down and were generally on a par with their visitors for most of the game.

But the Lions don't have the class players needed to make the difference at crucial moments.

Eugene Ellof would no doubt be willing to give a vital body part in exchange for a player capable of straightening the line and piercing the opposition defence.

As in every other game this year, the Lions seemed to have a brain fade every time an opportunity presented itself, clearly the mark of an inexperienced team under pressure.

The Sharks team however is packed with very classy players.

The quality of the Durban side's line-up was evident when they scored the only try of the first half. Just about every player in black and white touched the ball as they ran in an awesome five-pointer from 80 metres out.

It was a first-class display of how to off-load in the tackle, and BJ Botha rounded off a brilliant team effort.

16-3 up at half-time, the Sharks would have expected the flood gates to open in the second period. The complete opposite was true as the only points of the half came in the form of a 78th minute Lions try.

The Lions could have, should have, made it far more. Rayno Benjamin dropped a chip kick while in-goal, and only a brilliant tackle from Ryan Kankowski denied Jaco Pretorius as the Lions centre was rolled onto his back while going over.

The Sharks lacked the flair and finishing poise we've become used to. Perhaps the torrential rain that absolutely bucketed down for 60 minutes of the game had a hand in their less than brilliant display.

Their front row was also disrupted by the absence of Bismarck du Plessis who went off to receive stitches after clashing heads with Kegan Daniel and took too long to return. The hooker wasn't allowed back on, much to his dismay and that of his coach Dick Muir.

Muir was furious with the field-side officials and called the incident "disgraceful" and "unacceptable" in his post-match interview.

Du Plessis's strength was sorely missed, and even more so, his line-out throwing as he sat on the sidelines looking miserable.

Another Sharks player who might be feeling miserable is Francois Steyn. No one can deny that the young man is oozing talent, but a few unforced errors on his behalf cancelled out his positive contributions.

The Sharks will now have a weekend off to get their spark back while the Lions will host a rejuvenated Reds side at Ellis park seven days from now.

Man of the match: No doubt on this one. In the absence of Andre Pretorius and Louis Steyn, Jaco van Schalkwyk did a very good job at fly-half for the Lions, but Sharks number eight Ryan Kankowski was simply brilliant. He carried the ball with flair and that tackle on Pretorius saved his team some serious embarrassment.

Moment of the match: BJ Botha's first-half try for the Sharks was the cherry on the top of an outstanding team effort.

Villain of the match: Lions prop Ross Geldenhuys was in the sin-bin when the Sharks scored that try and his team could have used an extra defender. Otherwise no serious bust-ups to report.

The scorers:

For Lions:

Try: van der Merwe

Pen: van Schalkwyk

For Sharks:

Try: Botha

Con: Kockott

Pens: Kockott 3

Yellow cards: Ross Geldenhuys (shoulder charge)

The teams:

Lions: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Dusty Noble, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Walter Venter, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Jaco van Schalkwyk, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Joe van Niekerk, 7 Ernst Joubert (c), 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Anton van Zyl, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.

Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Chris Jonck, 21 Rudi Vogt, 22 Jannie Boshoff.

Sharks: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Bradley Barritt, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Francois Steyn, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jacques Botes, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Johann Muller (c), 4 Albert van den Berg, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 AJ Venter, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Frederic Michalak, 22 Adrian Jacobs.

Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)

Touch judges: Joey Salmans (South Africa), François Veldsman (South Africa)

Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Assessor: Dennis Immelman (South Africa)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Preview
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs Sale15:00
Bath vs Worcester15:00
Wasps vs Gloucester15:15
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London Irish14:00
Newcastle vs Saracens15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Glasgow vs UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Preview
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Melbourne Rebels vs Western ForceMelbourne Rebels vs Western Force Preview
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Preview
Waratahs vs Bulls19:00
Sharks vs Cheetahs15:00
Stormers vs Lions17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 23 - 11 CastresClermont Auvergne vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954