Johannesburg - The Golden Lions ended the Sharks XV’s unbeaten run in the Vodacom Cup when they ran out 23-15 (half-time 20-15) winners in a rain-soaked match in Johannesburg on Saturday.
In a match played in terrible weather, both teams tried their best to give the ball air despite the heavy, wet and oftentimes thundery conditions.
The home side, who beat Boland 32-10 last week, had flyhalf André Pretorius to thank for the win, the veteran former Springbok showing all his experience by controlling matters on a day when flowing backline play was simply not possible.
Predictably, there were plenty of mistakes but also some good play, such as Pretorius’ deft chip-ahead in the third minute for wing Dusty Noble to run onto for the first try of the match.
Pretorius orchestrated things well in the early exchanges, mixing tactical kicking with the odd release down the line, and his conversion opened up an early lead on an afternoon where points would be hard to come by.
But the Sharks XV, who hammered the Valke 67-26 last weekend to record their third straight win, struck back almost immediately when flyhalf Guy Cronjé sidestepped his way through the defence for a try he converted himself.
Pretorius gave the Lions the lead once more with a penalty after 12 minutes.
But the Sharks soon picked up their second try when winger Piet Lindeque was gifted a 60-metre intercept try after a lazy pass by Lions prop Jacobie Adriaanse.
The lead changed hands again in the 34th minute when Pretorius freed Divan Ferguson from first phase and the outside centre showed the surprised opposition cover defence a clean pair of heels.
Sharks scrumhalf Ross Cronjé took over from his brother Guy and slotted a 37th-minute penalty to narrow the gap, but Pretorius was equal to the task on the stroke of halftime to make it a five-point ball game at the break.
Pretorius, who missed with two attempted drop goals in the first half, then sliced a 60th-minute penalty that would have put his side more than one score in front.
But the handful of supporters who had come out to support their team needn’t have worried, as Pretorius made good in the 73rd minute with his third penalty as the Sharks XV were kept scoreless in a second period they would want to forget as quickly as possible.
Golden Lions 23 – Tries: Dusty Noble, Divan Ferguson. Conversions: André Pretorius (2). Penalties: Pretorius (3).
Sharks XV 15 – Tries: Guy Cronjé, Piet Lindeque. Conversion: Guy Cronjé. Penalty: Ross Cronjé.