The Sharks all but sealed a Currie Cup home semi-final by claiming a bonus-point victory over an error-stricken Lions side in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The result moved the second-placed Sharks to 40 points on the log, a near-unassailable position as the third-placed Pumas are on 32 points with one game to play.
Meanwhile, the Lions finished their season on a low with the seventh loss of the season, which condemned them to finish as the competition’s wooden spoonists. There has been talk of big changes happening to the management of the Johannesburg side and surely that has to happen sooner rather than later.
Matchflow: After a scrappy first 20 minutes, the Sharks took an early lead thanks to a try from inside centre Marius Louw. However, the Durban side then stepped up the intensity and the Lions struggled to keep up.
First, Thaakir Abrahams finished off after a brilliant break from scrumhalf Grant Williams and then Phepsi Buthelezi was on hand to score and punish the Lions for a yellow card to hooker PJ Botha.
The only area where the Lions were getting any dominance was the scrum but, even then, the Sharks managed to keep those to a minimum.
The Sharks sealed the bonus point just before the break as Anthony Volmink scored in the corner, but the Lions could count themselves fortunate not to have PJ Botha red-carded for a high tackle on the Sharks fullback just as he scored.
This pattern largely continued in the second half as, just as it seemed the Lions would get themselves in when Emmanuel Tshituka reached out for the tryline, the flank was adjudged to have grounded the ball short and the Sharks went up the other end and extended their lead through Abrahams’ second try.
As the Sharks started to tire, the Lions were able to get themselves on the board through tries from Tshituka and Jaco Visagie. However, that would be a consolation as Sanele Nohamba dotted down for the Sharks, before Abrahams grabbed his third try and then set up Volmink to bring up the half century of points.