The Cell C Sharks wrapped up the double against the Emirates Lions in the return leg Vodacom Super Rugby derby clash at Jonsson KINGS PARK on Saturday evening with a hard fought 27-17 victory.
While it wasn’t the absolute demolition job of the first round game, the Cell C Sharks were never going to catch the Lions napping again, but nevertheless it was a performance to be proud of as the team gutsed it out on our return to our home ground.
The opening 15 minutes was an exciting period, despite no score for either side as both teams looked to attack with ball in hand at every opportunity, although the Lions spent most of that time having to defend with rare chances to attack. They managed to get into our 22 once, but then lost their own lineout.
On the quarter hour, the Lions tried to put an attack together from the halfway line, only for Curwin Bosch to snap up an intercept and sprint half the field to the tryline without a defender able to lay a hand on him. He converted for a seven-nil lead.
The forwards were dominating at the set-pieces, not only poaching the odd lineout but in the scrums in particular were too strong for the Lions who were wilting under the pressure. When they conceded a penalty on the halfway line, the ball was sent to touch and in the ensuing territorial advantage, the ball was mauled over the tryline, Daniel du Preez the man in possession for the second try, well-converted from out wide by Bosch for a 14-nil lead after 25 minutes of play.
On the half hour, the Lions finally managed to convert rare possession into points, somehow managing to find the smallest of gaps to run in their first try, converted by Elton Jantjies who had made the try-scoring pass.
The Lions conceded a scrum in their final act of the half and Cell C Sharks captain Louis Schreuder cleared from the eighthman and kicked the ball to touch to close out the first half, his team enjoying a 14-7 lead having dominated much of the game and many of the phases, aside from the period around the visitors’ try when their tails were up.
The early parts of the second half saw us once more continue to dominate as we put some exciting passages of play together. Sbu Nkosi was denied what would have been a spectacular finish in the corner as he dived for the tryline, only to be tackled into touch.
A few more good efforts were thwarted by a final pass going to ground before the Lions managed to string together a strong passage before scoring the try that would equalise matters with half an hour’s play remaining.
But Bosch converted a penalty a few minutes later when the Lions illegally played the ball on the ground to regain the lead but we were forced to dig deep for the next five minutes, defending our tryline against a Lions’ attack that came, wave after wave, showing great patience as they looked to strike again.
But just when it appeared that they might break through out wide, Makazole Mapimpi sailed high into the air to snatch an intercept and from just a handful of metres from his tryline, sprinted to the opposite end of the field, forced to keep his eye on the line and his chasers away as he managed to score the third try. Bosch converted to stretch the lead to 10 points with the final quarter left to play.
Jantjies had an opportunity to rescue a bonus point and put his team within seven points, but he missed a relatively simple shot at posts and then going into the final 10 minutes a TMO ruling denied the Lions a try under the posts. No penalty advantage had accrued though and the Lions had a shot at goals which the flyhalf converted.
With three minutes remaining, a great mauling effort from the forwards produced a penalty which Bosch sent through the posts to restore the 10 point lead as the Lions looked in danger of losing for the second time to the Cell C Sharks.
There would be no further score in a match pretty much dominated by the Cell C Sharks who can look back at this performance with pride.
In the curtain-raiser, the Cell C Sharks XV comfortably dispatched the Border Bulldogs with a comprehensive and dominant SuperSport Rugby Challenge performance, controlling the match to run out 82-24 victors.