Match Report – Hollywoodbets Sharks XV vs. Fidelity ADT Lions

The Carling Currie Cup exploded into life in Durban when the Hollywoodbets Sharks XV welcomed  the Fidelity ADT Lions to Hollywoodbets Kings Park before the visitors narrowly came out on top in a tense but highly exciting match.

The hugely entertaining  contest went the way of the Lions, narrowly taking a 26-25 win in a game that could have gone either way.

This match emphasised the encouraging times that lie ahead for the Hollywoodbets Sharks XV as a number of youngsters have been exposed to top class rugby and impressed throughout.

The opening period was characterised by enthusiasm on attack as the hosts ran everything at the visiting Lions, showing enterprise on attack, but stern defence denied a break of the deadlock which extended to the 13th minute when the Lions build some continuity on attack before slotting a penalty to take a 3-nil lead.

Both sides enjoyed time on the ball before a stunning break from Diego Appollis who scythed through the defence before feeding wing Jaco Williams who went over untouched for the first try of the game. The allowable time to kick beat Lionel Cronje to the conversion and so the Hollywoodbets Sharks held a two point lead 10 minutes later.

Less than five minutes later the Hollywoodbets Sharks were halfway to a four try bonus point when impressive lock Coetzee Le Roux smashed his way over following a succession of pick and drives from his fellow forwards to take a 10-3 lead just shy of the half hour mark.

With two minutes of play in the half remaining, the visitors put together a well-crafted attack that led to their first try of the game to cut the deficit to just two points with half-time looming.

There was an exciting period of extra time as the Hollywoodbets Sharks looked to add some distance between themselves and the Lions on the scoreboard and looked threatening before the ball was lost and the game closed out an entertaining 40-plus minutes of Currie Cup rugby.

The Lions retook the lead with an almost identical try to their opener, pace on the outside exploiting space with the score in the corner with the touchline conversion handing them the extra two points for a 15-10 lead just after the start.

The Lions’ momentum continued as they earned a penalty from right in front and had no hesitation in opting to go for posts, extending their lead to eight points.

What followed was a try for the ages, a scintillating attack from the Hollywoodbets Sharks and a reverse of the first try, this time Diego Appollis receiving the final pass from Jaco Williams, with Lionel Cronje converting to make it a one point game, 17-18 with half an hour remaining.

The momentum pendulum had truly turned the way of the home side who earned a penalty on attack moments later and Cronje was bang on target to retake the lead.

But the see-sawing nature of the game meant that neither side could pull ahead strongly, with the Lions earning the penalty that saw them go ahead 21-20 in the 55th minute.

Yaw Penxe was agonisingly short of the tryline for what would have been the bonus point try, before the Lions built up a head of steam following personnel changes on both sides, and then managed to get over for a five-pointer to stretch their lead to 26-20 with 15 minutes remaining.

The closing period belonged almost exclusively to the Hollywoodbets Sharks as they chased the try that could win them the game, and it was left to captain Nick Hatton to do the job, the Lions conceding penalties defending their line and the athletic eighthman dummied before crashing over, leaving the conversion to win the game, but the ball went wide.

Almost three minutes of extra time ensued, the Hollywoodbets Sharks chasing a winning score bravely, but having to run the ball out of their 22 proved impossible and they would have to settle for two log points out of this wonderful Currie Cup derby clash.