Makazole Mapimpi scored a brace as the Sharks claimed a 42-5 bonus-point win and scored their first victory at Ellis Park since 2014. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Sharks came into this match as underdogs – despite the lack of experience in the Lions match-day squad – searching for their first win against South African opposition in 2019 and their first victory at Ellis Park in five years.
Perhaps Beast Mtawarira’s milestone inspired them to lift their standards across the board. Mtawarira became the most capped South African player in Vodacom Super Rugby history when he ran on to the field for the 157th time.
The Springbok prop’s robust performance with ball in hand and at the scrums set the tone. The visiting pack laid the platform and the backs converted the majority of their scoring chances into points.
By half-time, the Sharks were 25 points and four tries up. The Lions were lucky to have zero.
The driving rain did little to dampen the Sharks’ red-hot attacking ambitions. Curwin Bosch was in sublime form at the back, taking some excellent options to break the line and play his teammates into space. Lukhanyo Am was equally inventive, and Mapimpi’s world-class finishing ensured that the Sharks received full reward for their endeavour.
The Lions missed 26 tackles in the first stanza, and conceded a whopping seven penalties. Rhyno Herbst was yellow-carded for foul play in the 11th minute, and that allowed the Sharks to get a firm foothold in the game.
The contest changed in the second half. The Sharks nailed a long-range penalty goal through Bosch to strengthen their lead.
The Sharks missed three conversions and one penalty attempt. The Lions will count themselves fortunate that the visitors left nine points on the park.
The Sharks did enough to secure the victory and the bonus point, though. Thomas du Toit and Aphelele Fassi crashed over late in the game to complete a dominant performance by the visitors.
Sylvian Mahuza scored in the 78th minute to ensure that the Lions finished the game with some points on the board.
The Lions have now lost to all of the other South African franchises in this year’s competition – with two of those losses coming at home.
Lions – Try: Sylvian Mahuza.
Sharks – Tries: Jacques Vermeulen, Makazole Mapimpi (2), Lukhanyo Am, Thomas du Toit, Aphelele Fassi. Conversions: Rob du Preez, Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Rob du Preez, Bosch.
Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 12 Lionel Mapoe, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Ruan Vermaak, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx (c), 1 Sti Sithole.
Subs: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Nathan Macbeth, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Stephan Lewies, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Hacjivah Dayimani, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.
Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Louis, Schreuder (c), 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Kobus van Wyk, 23 Aphelele Fassi.
Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images