Sharks ensure a promising season after emphatic win, Lions surprise Cheetahs

2014-02-17 00:00

THE Sharks produced a clinical performance at King’s Park over the weekend as they started their Super Rugby campaign with a convincing win over the Bulls in front of a near capacity crowd.

Jake White’s men were favourites going into the game, and they needed to make sure they got their season going on a positive note to prove their Super Rugby title credentials.

Following their win over the Lions the previous week, White spoke about the value of having Frans Steyn at inside centre, saying “Things will happen around him”.

And with the scores tied at 3-3 after a Pat Lambie penalty and a Louis Fouche drop goal, Steyn had a hand in the Sharks first try in just the 10th minute of the game when he released Lwazi Mvovo, who cut through the Bulls backline at pace. Once through, Mvovo passed the ball out wide to Paul Jordaan who dotted down in the corner.

The Sharks were playing with their tails up as they looked to assert themselves against the young Bulls side that lost a number of its stalwarts last year. Their second try came following an error at a lineout 10 minutes after the first.

With Paul Willemse being pressured by Jacques Botes in the lineout, the big former Baby Bok lock could not collect cleanly and popped it down to scrumhalf Francois Hougaard. Trying to get the ball away, it was plucked out of the air by his opposite number Cobus Reinach who went over for a soft try.

Following the try, Frans Ludeke’s Bulls then spent some time with the ball as they looked to reply, but were met by a resolute Sharks defence that just wouldn’t budge.

Odwa Ndungane then scored the Sharks’ third try of the half just after the hooter had sounded when he collected a Frans Steyn chip over the top to dive over for the try to make it 23-9 at half time.

The Bulls seemed to come out more organised in the second half, but it was Lambie who was first on the board, slotting a penalty to extend the score to 26-9 in the 47th minute of the game. The score remained that way for a while as both teams brought on new players.

Bulls and Bok legend Victor Matfield received a huge ovation as he came on for Willemse, but it was apparent that he perhaps needed a few more games to be at his best.

The men from Pretoria eventually crossed the Sharks’ line when Jono Ross, who captained the side in the Currie Cup last year in the absence of Pierre Spies, scored from a maul. With seven minutes remaining on the clock, it came a little too late to launch a comeback.

With time running out, it was the Sharks who went in search of the fourth try for a maximum of five points, and they got it after the hooter had sounded courtesy of Lambie who deceived Flip van der Merwe and replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi with a dummy before cutting back inside to cross the line.

The Sharks ran out 31-16 victors and leapfrogged the Lions into top spot in both the South African conference and the overall log.

In their first game of Super Rugby following one year in the wilderness, the Lions had earlier surprised everyone — most of all the Cheetahs — when they won their opening encounter at the Free State Stadium 21-20.

The Cheetahs, who outmatched their opponents from Johannesburg in every department on the field, just failed to arrive at the party, and despite outscoring the visitors by two tries to zero, they never really got out of third gear.

Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff, who started the game in the place of the injured Elton Jantjies, stalled the Cheetahs’ progress with six penalties and a drop goal just before the hooter to steal the game from under the their opponents’ noses.

His opposite number, Johan Goosen, seemed to have an off day, and missed a number of vital kicks that should have kept the scoreboard ticking over for the much stronger Cheetahs.

Springbok fullback Willie le Roux was at his best for the Cheetahs, and he was the man who created the first try that was scored by the Ghanaian-born former Baby Bok speedster Raymond Rhule.

Cornal Hendricks, on his Super Rugby debut, scored the second for the Cheetahs in the second half as they looked to run away, but Boshoff’s boot kept the Lions in the game.

With the game poised at 20-18 and a couple of seconds on the clock remaining, the Lions started putting phases together, which allowed Boshoff time to position himself in the pocket.

Once he struck the ball, he turned immediately as the ball sailed through the sticks to win the game for Johan Ackerman’s team, and to put the Lions briefly at the top of the Super Rugby log.


Sharks: Tries: Paul Jordaan, Cobus Reinach, Odwa Ndungane, Patrick Lambie

Conversion: Patrick Lambie

Penalties: Lambie (3)

Bulls: Try: Jonathan Ross

Conversion: Handre Pollard

Penalties: Louis Fouche (2)

Drop Goal: Fouche

Cheetahs: Tries: Raymond Rhule, Cornal Hendricks

Conversions: Johan Goosen (2)

Penalties: Goosen, Elgar Watts

Lions: Penalties: Marnitz Boshoff (6)

Drop goal: Boshoff.

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