The Lions retained their status as the Absa Currie Cup’s pace-setting team by securing a 28-19 victory over the Sharks in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Another magnificent performance by flyhalf Elton Jantjies, who contributed 23 of his team’s points with the boot, left the Sharks dumbstruck.
The young pivot not only kicked well from hand but also ran outstanding lines on attack and was no slouch in defence either.
Although the match started at a frantic pace, both sides were guilty of making too many unforced errors with the Sharks coming off worse because of ill-discipline in the tackle area.
That gave Jantjies the opportunity to give his side a 6-0 lead through two quick penalty conversions.
The Sharks were, however, not misled by the scoreboard and were quick to get back inside Lions territory.
The coastal side’s dominance at the scrum earned them their first points though flyhalf Frederic Michalak.
That specific set phase continued to be an area of concern for the Johannesburg squad for most of the match.
The first try came in the 20th minute when centre Lionel Mapoe finished off a passage of play during which Jantjies’s brilliance was the main thing separating the two sides.
The pivot not only delivered a pinpoint kick-off that ensured his side regained possession, he also cut through the Sharks backline with the greatest of ease.
While trailing 13-3, Michalak converted his second penalty of the night as the Lions again struggled to get their scrums going.
One of the highlights of the first half involved Lions prop Patric Cilliers who made a thumping tackle on the Sharks’ Louis Ludik near the halfway line.
Cilliers, a former Sharks player, was one of the stand-out performers for the Lions.
Jantjies converted his fourth penalty just before the break and this ensured his team enjoyed a 10 point lead with 40 minutes left to play.
After testing the home side’s defence for a prolonged period, the Sharks finally managed to get over the try line in the 60th minute when Stefan Terblanche took advantage of a quick-tap penalty taken by Michalak.
Leading up to that, Springbok Jean Deysel made his presence felt by barging over a few defenders although the Sharks coaching team would have expected more from his bench.
Prior to the important five-pointer, the Lions had extended their lead to 25-9 as Jantjies simply couldn’t put a foot wrong.
A long range penalty conversion by Meyer Bosman brought the men from Durban even closer and with 10 minutes left to play they were well within striking distance as the score was 25-19. — Sapa