Lions romp to Currie Cup title
Johannesburg - The Lions' pride weighed heavier than the Sharks' reputation as the hosts lifted the Currie Cup for the first time in 12 years with a 42-16 victory at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Gallery: Lions win the Currie Cup
Putting their bodies on the line, the Lions won the final at home for the first time since 1950.
The visitors enjoyed the majority of territory and possession but the heroics from the home side on defence made the ultimate difference.
The Lions made the most of the few chances they created.
The trusted boot of 21-year-old flyhalf Elton Jantjies, the Man of the Match, kept the scoreboard ticking over as he succeeded with all the kicks that were entrusted to him.
Jantjies opened the scoring in the third minute of the match with a penalty conversion, while fullback Jaco Taute converted their second penalty goal with a long-range 58-metre kick soon after.
The visitors finally got onto the scoresheet thanks to a Frederic Michalak penalty, but Jantjies slotted another three minutes later as the Lions held on to an early six-point advantage.
While the hosts led, however, the Sharks were dominating proceedings, particularly in the battle of the forwards.
The Sharks pack tirelessly attacked the Lions line in the first quarter of the match.
Their efforts proved fruitless, though, as the hosts overturned the possession and got themselves in a position in which they were awarded a penalty, with Jantjies converting effortlessly.
The game went up a gear in the 26th minute when the Lions finally breached the Sharks' defence.
Receiving a scrum on the halfway line, the home side spread to the left where Doppies la Grange found a gap in the Sharks backline.
He then offloaded to Michael Killian who scored, with Jantjies converting, stretching the gap to 19-3.
Two minutes later the Sharks pulled three points back with a Michalak penalty.
The Lions were dealt a blow in the dying stages of the first half when prop CJ van der Linde was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle.
His absence, however, did little to slow the Lions' march to victory as the Sharks failed to capitalise on the advantage.
The visitors scored the first points of the second period when Michalak succeeded with a penalty conversion two minutes after the restart.
Jantjies, however, continued his mature performance with a cheeky drop goal off his left boot to take the scores to 22-9.
Referee Mark Lawrence caused some controversy when he allowed a Willem Alberts try which was clearly knocked on.
After some squabbles with the Lions players, Lawrence reverted to assistant referee Christie du Preez who said the ball came off a Lions player's hand.
With Michalak converting, there were only six points separating the two sides with 30 minutes left in the match.
This, however, did not dampen the Lions' spirits as they came back with determination, scoring two more tries to take the game out of the Sharks' hands.
Prop Pat Cilliers dotted down, while Taute hammered in the final nail, darting over for the third and final try of the match with 12 minutes left.
Lions - Tries: Michael Killian, Patric Cilliers, Jaco Taute. Conversions: Elton Jantjies(3). Penalties: Jantjies (5), Jaco Taute. Drop goal: Jantjies.
Sharks - Try: Willem Alberts. Conversion:Frederic Michalak. Penalties: Michalak (3).
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies la Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 CJ Van der Linde
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Warren Whiteley, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Butch James, 21 Dylan des Fountain, 22 James Kamana
15. Patrick Lambie, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Stefan Terblanche, 12. Marius Joubert, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Frederic Michalak, 9. Conrad Hoffmann, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Keegan Daniel (captain), 5. Ross Skeate, 4. Jean Deysel, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Eugene van Staden, 18. Alistair Hargreaves, 19. Marcell Coetzee, 20. Ross Cronje, 21. Adrian Jacobs, 22. Lwazi Mvovo