Sharks, Lions start season in style

2014-02-15 23:17

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The Sharks made better use of their opportunities and also enjoyed a touch of luck to beat the Bulls 31-16 in their Super Rugby match at Kings Park Stadium in Durban last night.

Although outgunned in the battle for possession of the ball and not as convincing as the final score suggests, the Sharks managed to make it the perfect start for Jake White’s tenure as coach by scoring their fourth and bonus point-earning try nearly three minutes after full time.

Although high humidity made the field slippery and didn’t help when it came to handling the ball, the Sharks scored three tries in the first half to build a 23-9 lead, which enabled them to withstand a spirited resurgence by the Bulls in the second period.

In a typically error-ridden early-season game, the Sharks’ first try by Paul Jordaan was engineered when Lwazi Mvovo cut through strongly from the blindside. the third try came when Frans Steyn put across a perfectly-weighted cross-kick for Odwa Ndungane to run onto.

The second, though, by Cobus Reinach, was contentious because it appeared from replays that Anton Bresler had knocked the ball on in the preceding lineout before the scrumhalf managed to snatch Francois Hougaard’s wobbly pass out of the air to scurry over the try-line.

The Bulls, with Victor Matfield coming on in the 46th minute to equal the Super Rugby caps record of 125 jointly held by John Smit and AJ Venter, scrapped hard but were unable to bring to bear the necessary finishing touches until the 72nd minute, when they drove Jono Ross over from a lineout.

The visitors had left it too late though, and it was the Sharks who finished stronger by taking the ball through numerous phases before Patrick Lambie managed to slip over the line to grab the crucial fourth try.

.?Earlier in Bloemfontein, in the opening game of the season, flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff was the hero as the Lions defied the odds by beating the Cheetahs 21-20.

Boshoff kicked the winning dropped goal in the final minute to go with his six penalties, contributing all his team’s points, to celebrate the Lions’ return to Super Rugby with a victory few had predicted.

The Cheetahs scored the only two tries of a scrappy game, but two missed penalties by Johan Goosen and another by his replacement, Elgar Watts, from right in front of the posts in the 77th minute proved costly.

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