Sharks snap losing streak
Willem Alberts (Gallo Images)
Durban - Jacques Botes scored a late try to help the Sharks secure a bonus point and clinch their first Super Rugby victory of the season as they edged out the Lions 32-20 in Durban on Saturday.
Riaan Viljoen and Lwazi Mvovo scored in the first half to give the hosts a 17-6 lead at the interval, before Meyer Bosman and replacement Botes secured a full five-points for the hosts.
In what was a tense affair, the visitors, who replied via scores for Jaco Taute and Ruan Dreyer, were in the game until the death when they conceded the telling try.
John Mitchell’s men were penalised inside the opening 90 seconds for not rolling away at the ruck, but Patrick Lambie’s 50-metre attempt faded wide.
At the other end, Butch James had an immediate chance to score against his former club when the home defence were caught off their feet trying to defend allowing the flyhalf to coolly slot the penalty.
Just before the 20 minute mark, Springboks Patrick Lambie and Willem Alberts both came close but were caught inches from the line.
The Sharks were finally on the board in the 23rd minute when a high tackle from Joshua Strauss on JP Pietersen was spotted by the assistant allowing Lambie to level matters.
Mvovo came close four minutes later, but was caught when the ball was spread wide to him on the left.
The hosts finally had their break-through on the half-hour mark when Viljoen’s up-and-under bounced kindly to take out the last defender Taute, with the former Griquas man regathering and diving over unmarked in the left corner.
Lambie added the conversion from a tight angle, before the Lions hit back via another James penalty, awarded for off-side with the Lions coming within metres of scoring.
With half-time looming, Lambie landed a fine kick over the Lions defence to set up a lineout on the right. Bismarck du Plessis excellently managed the steal after the ball was not gathered cleanly, with the ball subsequently spun across to the other end where Mvovo dived in.
Lambie converted to give the hosts an 11-point lead at the interval.
It took almost 18 minutes for the first points to come after the restart and they arrived when Lambie slotted in an off-side penalty.
But the Lions then caught the Sharks napping with Taute capitalising on quick hands in attack to score on the right side of the post.
James’s conversion cut the gap to seven points.
However, with nine minutes remaining Pietersen spotted a gap in defence and did most of the work as he offloaded to Tim Whitehead, who played in Bosman to score, with Lambie again converting.
Again there was an answer from the visitors with Dreyer on the end of a push-over score, converted by James, to set up a tense finish.
But Botes managed to get over on the right to wrap up the win.
The Sharks picked up five points for their victory and moved into third place in the South African Conference standings and into ninth in the Overall log. The Lions head back to Johannesburg empty-handed and slipped to fourth in the South African Conference and 11th overall.
In next weekend's Round 4 action, the Sharks welcome the defending champion Reds to Durban, while the Lions have the weekend off.
15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Tim Whitehead, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Frederic Michalak, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Ross Skeate, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Dale Chadwick
Substitutes: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Jannie du Plessis, 18. Anton Bresler, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Meyer Bosman, 22. Paul Jordaan
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies La Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Joshua Strauss (captain), 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Marius Coetzer, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Stephan Greef, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 Andries Coetzee, 22 James Kamana