The Sharks cruised to an easy 27-3 win over the Lions in Durban on Saturday but had to wait until the very last minute to secure a bonus point.
Both the Sharks and Lions had something to prove coming into this game. The Sharks had lost three on the trot and for a team who consider themselves to be contenders for the grand prize they needed a big performance.
The Lions on the other hand have shown much promise despite not many giving them a chance this season.
The game started off at a frenetic pace before Stefan Terblanche, playing his 200th game for the Sharks Union was penalised for being off sides. Elton Jantjies made no mistake with the penalty and the Lions went ahead. That was to be the last time the Lions scored.
Nine minutes later the Sharks finally go onto the scoreboard through a Louis Ludik try in the corner. The move was started by Ryan Kankowski who powered up the middle, off-loaded to Keegan Daniel, who finally found Ludik.
The Sharks continued to dominate with the Lions only showing occasional glimpses of their potential.
Great interplay between Kankowski, Terblanche, JP Pietersen,and Daniel resulted in a try for Willem Alberts when he scored in the 33rd minute. Meyer Bosman added the conversion.
The team from Durban seemed poised to run away with it when seven minutes later a fantastic Jacques-Louis Potgieter cross kick found Pietersen, who went on to score in the corner. Potgieter missed the conversion to end the first half.
The second half started off where the first had ended, until the 45th minute when Rory Kockott replaced Jano Vermaak at scrum-half.
Suddenly the Lions were maintaining possession, to such an extent that by the 68th minute they had 62 per cent of the ball. They will rue their inability to use possession more effectively and were unable to score any points despite having so much of the ball.
Fans must have been worried that the second period would only feature a solitary penalty by Potgieter, but the Sharks showed their class when Charl McLeod took a quick tap penalty to score the bonus point try in the 82nd minute. Potgieter added the extra two points.
The victory moves the Sharks into sixth place overall and into second position in the South African conference. The Lions are last overall.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Ludik, Alberts, Pietersen, McLeod
Cons: Bosman, Potgieter
For the Lions:
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Gerhard Mostert, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Eugene van Staden, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 John Smit (capt).
Replacements: 16 Tendai Mtawarira, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.
Lions: 15 James Kamana, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Doppies La Grange (capt), 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Joshua Strauss, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe , 4 George Earle, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 David de Villiers, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Andre Pretorius, 22 Jaco Taute.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
Television match official: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)