Cape Town - The Sharks ran out 33-29 winners against the Golden Lions in an Absa Currie Cup warm-up match at Woodburn Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Friday night.
New recruit Joe Pietersen opened the scoring when he collected his own grubber kick to dot down under the posts, the Sharks website reports.
The flyhalf converted for a 7-0 lead within the opening 10 minutes after both sides had turned down kickable penalties at goal in favour of playing as much rugby as possible.
The Lions hit back when they spread the ball wide for their opening try, scored in the corner by Joe Booya and well converted from out wide to level matters on the quarter hour mark.
A strong build-up from the home side then saw the ball moved wide with clinical precision off the back of a long, attacking lineout and wing Charles Mayeza took two defenders over the tryline to put his side back into the lead.
Courtnall Skosan then showed pace to deliver his team’s second try before Marnitz Boshoff converted to give the Lions the lead for the first time in the match on the half hour mark.
Moments later Skosan streaked down the flank for the third try, the successful conversion taking the Lions into a 21-12 lead.
Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold threw on an almost completely changed side in the second half – as he had stated he would – only Jean-Luc du Preez and Monde Hadebe remaining from the first half side. Hadebe was the man in control of the ball as the Sharks drove over early, although referee Stu Berry awarded a penalty try with Lionel Cronje converting to bring his team right back into the game early on.
There was the welcome sight of Pieter-Steph du Toit, making his return after months of rehab. He will be available to the Sharks for the Absa Currie Cup until such time as the Springboks call him up for Rugby World Cup duty and he got through the half seemingly unscathed.
The first penalty of the match pushed the Lions into a 24-19 lead, but after some enterprising attacking play, a great break from Thomas du Toit who then fed Stefan Ungerer for the fourth try allowed them to draw level, before Cronje converted for a two point lead.
After the Lions had knocked the ball on in their 22, a powerful Sharks scrum laid the platform for the attack with S’bura Sithole powering over in the corner to stretch their lead to 33-24 after Cronje converted from out wide.
The Lions managed to strike back right from the kick-off with a driving try that brought them back to within four points but with only a minute or two remaining, it was too little too late.