The Golden Lions clinched their seventh successive win of the Currie Cup as they defeated the Sharks 26-18 at Ellis Park on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Last year’s runners-up simply continue on their merry way in this season’s competition, and look virtually certain to finish top of the log after now opening up an eight-point buffer at the summit of the standings.
For the Sharks it was another disappointing day, with the team from Durban looking devoid of direction, and their fourth defeat of the season is another significant blow to their play-off ambitions.
There was a fair amount of intent early on, but also a lack of execution, with the Lions butchering a try in the 17th minute, while a forward pass denied them a possible five-pointer soon after.
Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff finally opened the scoring with a penalty in the 28th minute, and although he added another just before half-time, opposite number Joe Pietersen drew three points back in between.
The Sharks’ lack of rhythm on attack was once again in evidence when they squandered a couple of great opportunities early on in the second half, and Boshoff made them pay with two more penalties to take the Lions’ lead out to nine points.
Pietersen knocked over his second penalty a few minutes later, but impressive Lions lock Lourens Erasmus deservedly finished off the first try of the match in the 59th minute after a period of sustained pressure from the home side.
Winger Courtnall Skosan then effectively sealed the result with a well-worked try just after the hour mark, with the conversion extending the Lions’ advantage to 20 points.
The Sharks scored two late consolation tries through Pietersen and Francois Kleinhans, but it was too little, too late.
Golden Lions – Tries: Lourens Erasmus, Courtnall Skosan. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (2). Penalties: Boshoff (4).
Sharks – Tries: Joe Pietersen, Francois Kleinhans. Conversion: Pietersen. Penalties: Pietersen (2).
Golden Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Fabian Booysen, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 MB Lusaseni, 19 Stephan de Witt, 20 Jaco van der Walt, 21 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 22 Anthony Volmink.
Sharks – 15 Odwa Ndungane, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Sibusiso Sithole, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 David McDuling, 19 Dan du Preez, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Heimar Williams, 22 Garth April.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images