Sharks edge Lions to go top
Fred Zeilinga (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Fred Zeilinga scored 21 points for the Sharks as they ran out 31-25 winners over the Golden Lions in a Currie Cup clash at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Friday evening.
The flyhalf scored a try, two conversions, two penalties and two drop-goals to lead the Durban side to a win that puts them at the top of the Currie Cup standings after eight rounds of fixtures.
Trailing by four points at the interval, the Sharks turned the game around to out-score the Lions 15-5 in the second period, as the home side struggled to capitalise on their dominance in set-plays, particularly in the scrum, where they dominated the Sharks throughout.
At the start of the encounter, the Sharks broke the deadlock with a drop-goal from Zeilinga, before Elton Jantjies cancelled the opener two minutes later.
A second drop-goal from Zeilinga followed, before the nuggety pivot dotted down the Sharks' first try of the night 15 minutes into the encounter.
Zeilinga rounded-off a move he initiated on the halfway line, having off-loaded to a teammate, before getting the ball back and trotting home for the visitors' first maximum of the night.
But the hosts finally got themselves back into the contest midway through the half when Derick Minnie scored the Lions' first try, after a fluent backline move culminated in Minnie cantering over the try-line unopposed, as the Sharks' defence was left in tatters.
But the Lions were not done yet. Warren Whiteley scored the Lions' second five-pointer shortly before the half-time break, handing the hosts the lead for the first time in the match.
Having scored 17 unanswered points to give them the lead at half-time, the Lions' ill-discipline cost them as Zeilinga knocked over his second penalty to reduce the deficit to a single point.
Then, from a quick penalty tap, Charl McLeod sliced open the Lions defence with a superb run deep into opposition territory.
McLeod then found SP Marais on his inside and got a neat pass away to set up the fullback, who scored the Durban side's second try of the night.
But the Lions responded through Jaco Kriel, who added his name to the scoresheet as the home side regained the lead.
A bustling break from the Lions allowed Kriel to receive a pass inside the Sharks' 22-metre line, before bursting through two tackles and dotting down.
Just when the Lions thought they had done enough, the Sharks went straight back in front, as Cobus Reinach sent his marker the other way with a superb side-step, and dived over the line, before Zeilinga added the additional points to stretch the lead to six, just 10 minutes from time.
The Sharks were forced into their own area for the rest of the match as the Lions went in search of the victory, but the visitors were able to hold on for a nervy final eight minutes, to secure four points.Scorers:
31 (16): Tries: Fred Zeilinga, SP Marais, Cobus Reinach. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (2). Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (2). Drop-goals: Fred Zeilinga (2).Lions
25 (20): Tries: Derick Minnie, Warren Whiteley, Jaco Kriel. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalties: Elton Jantjies (2).