The Golden Lions scored two late tries to claim a 31-16 bonus-point win against the Sharks at Kings Park on Saturday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
It was the Lions' first win in Durban, at Vodacom Super Rugby or Currie Cup level, since 2007, and helped maintain their unbeaten start to this year's Currie Cup. For the Sharks, it was a second defeat in three matches.
The hosts led 16-10 with 20 minutes to go, but it was the Lions who finished with a flourish, with three converted tries giving them all five log points.
The visitors struck first, in the 12th minute, when Robbie Coetzee's long throw went over the lineout and was kicked ahead by Howard Mnisi, who regathered the ball to score a converted try.
The Lions were dominant up front, with Ruan Dreyer schooling Thomas du Toit, a former Junior Boks loosehead prop with huge potential, who the Sharks insist on playing at tighthead. The sooner he goes back to No 1, the better.
Two penalties from Joe Pietersen made it 7-6 at the break, with Ruan Combrinck and Pietersen exchanging penalties in the third quarter.
Both sides then rung the changes, with Pietersen moving to flyhalf for the Sharks and the Lions bringing on Jacques van Rooyen at loosehead and moving Dreyer to tighthead.
And it was replacement fullback SP Marais's grubber that put Odwa Ndungane away for the Sharks' only try, after they had sent the the ball wide from a lineout. Pietersen slotted the conversion to give his side a six-point lead.
But the Lions hit back when Kwagga Smith broke away and offloaded in the tackle to Marnitz Boshoff, who found Stokkies Hanekom. TV replays showed the midfielder had reached out to place the ball on the line and the try was awarded, with Boshoff's conversion edging his side in front.
The visitors sealed the win with seven minutes to go when Ross Cronjé broke away from inside the Sharks 22 and passed to Smith, who put Courtnall Skosan over for a try that gave them an eight-point cushion.
But the Lions weren't done yet, with Anthony Volmink's interception try securing the bonus point.
Sharks – Try: Odwa Ndungane. Conversion: Joe Pietersen. Penalties: Pietersen (3).
Golden Lions – Tries: Howard Mnisi, Stokkies Hanekom, Courtnall Skosan, Anthony Volmink. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (4). Penalty: Ruan Combrinck.
Sharks – 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 S'bura Sithole, 10 Lionel Cronjé, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Daniel du Preez, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Monde Hadebe, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Subs: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 18 David McDuling, 19 Jean-Luc du Preez, 20 Stefan Ungerer, 21 Wandile Mjekevu, 22 SP Marais.
Golden Lions – 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Ruan Dreyer.
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Martin Muller, 19 Steph de Wit, 20 Ricky Schroeder, 21 Alwyn Hollenbach, 22 Anthony Volmink.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images