The Cell C Sharks extended their winning form with a comprehensive 37-10 victory over the visiting Emirates Lions in a pulsating Vodacom United Ruby Championship derby clash at Hollywoodbets Kings Park on Friday evening.
They gave their fans an early Christmas present as they led from start to finish and dominated almost every sphere of the game, delivering a committed and energetic performance that the visitors were in no position to counter and which earned them a full house of log points.
The opening stages of the game were almost completely dominated by the Cell C Sharks and while the Lions did make some effort to counter, they were no match for the dominant home side.
Man of the match Makazole Mapimpi almost scored early on, before making his presence felt as a finisher following a truly majestic build-up that the Lions simply couldn’t contain and the Springbok winger was not going to be stopped. Curwin Bosch’s touchline conversion was bang on target to provide a seven-nil lead within 10 minutes of play.
The send try was a demonstration in patience, the forwards relentless in their build-up, the Lions undisciplined in defence and the backs too accurate as Boeta Chamberlain closed out a team effort on the quarter hour to extend the lead to 12 points.
Unfortunately the restart went awry, the ball wasn’t secured at the kick-off and the Lions capitalised immediately, a seven-pointer cutting the lead right away. It was a rare slip and the Lions were able to take advantage with the slimmest and rarest of opportunities that had come their way.
The Cell C Sharks continued to dominate the possession and territory stakes to drain the Lions who ended up spending the majority of the half in energy-sapping defence. There were a few promising incursions to force desperate defence from the visitors, but to their credit they managed to withstand everything that was thrown at them and there was no further score – despite the constant threat from the Cell C Sharks who were able to maintain their 12-7 margin into the half-time break.
A 45m penalty from Curwin Bosch in the opening five minutes of the second half following a scrum penalty against the Lions saw the lead extended to eight points, but tables were turned moments later when the home side were penalised at scrum time and the Lions restored the scoreline.
It would be the last time they scored in a match they were never able to assert their authority on.
15 minutes into the second half, with the kickers giving the ball some long range air, the Lions’ focus slipped, allowed a charge down and Rohan Janse van Rensburg picked up the loose ball, made some important yards before feeding Grant Williams whose blistering pace was simply too quick for the cover defence and he dotted down to score the third try, Bosch’s conversion taking his team into a 22-10 lead.
With under 15 minutes of the game remaining, Lionel Cronje, with his first touch of the ball, was called on to convert a penalty, his effort sailing through the posts to extend the lead to 15 points.
The killer blow nearly came moment later, a penalty kicked to touch and the forwards were simply too powerful with the driving maul, but a technical infringement in the transfer of the ball ruled against the fourth try.
With under five minutes remaining, Springbok captain Sitya Kolisi scored the bonus point try, a quick tap penalty from Boeta Chamberlain finding the Cell C Sharks with a numbers advantage and the inspirational flank was never going to let his side down.
Lionel Cronje was called into action twice in the space of a couple of minutes to convert Kolisi’s try, and then Mapimpi’s second when he chased up a loose ball, got his foot to the loose ball to send it towards the touchline for the fifth try.
It was a more than satisfactory performance, it was dominant, committed and ultimately way too powerful for the visitors to answer.