Sharks overpower Lions in the rain
URC REPORT: The Sharks moved up to sixth in the United Rugby Championship standings after they beat the Lions 37-10 in wet conditions in Durban on Saturday.
Sean Everitt’s side are now also in second place in the South African Shield conference on 46 points, which is just one point behind the Stormers.
The Lions were never really in the game as the Sharks had plenty to prove after some inconsistent performances in previous weeks.
The hosts scored two tries in each half, while Curwin Bosch contributed 17 points with the boot.
Gerbrandt Grobler and Phepsi Buthelezi crossed in the first 10 minutes and even at that early stage there appeared to be no way back for the Lions, who were bullied up front.
The best evidence of the Sharks’ forward dominance was Bongi Mbonambi’s 60th-minute try which came after an unstoppable line-out maul that travelled 20 metres.
Sikhumbuzo Notshe registered the bonus point when he drove over from close range.
It also brought to an end the Lions’ run of four successive wins, although a late touchdown by Henco van Wyk at least ensured they did not finish tryless.
The Lions cracked after only six minutes, their lack of numbers around the ruck allowing Grobler to gallop over.
To compound a miserable start for the visitors, their veteran tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis was sin-binned for an off-the-ball tackle on Reniel Hugo.
The Sharks’ driving maul provided the platform for Buthelezi to score their next try, establishing a 14-0 lead, before Jordan Hendrikse finally got his side off the mark with a penalty.
Flyhalf Curwin Bosch had brought his kicking boots as he added a penalty to his two conversions and even at this early stage it looked bleak for the Johannesburg team.
That prospect was confirmed when Bosch landed a second penalty from long range and despite the lashing rain, the Sharks attempted to open up with Springbok prop Ox Nche a growing force in the loose.
Buthelezi was stopped just short of the line when the attack was renewed and the Lions produced a timely turnover when they came under pressure from the goalline drop-out.
They soon cracked for a third time, however, after Bosch kicked the Sharks downfield and the line-out maul did the rest with Mbonambi touching down before Notshe secured the bonus point.
Man of the Match
Buthelezi packs a punch in the carry – just ask Dragons flank Ross Moriarty who suffered a knee injury when tackling the Sharks back row a week earlier.
The 22-year-old is seen as a major prospect in South Africa and his early try was the highlight of a powerful display in defence and attack that will have enhanced his reputation.
Play of the match
In a moment that summed up the dominance of the Sharks’ pack, their driving maul hurtled 20 metres from a 60th-minute line-out to cross for their third try.
Springbok hooker Mbonambi was in possession as it continued its unstoppable path to the line and he touched down as the Lions reflected on a chastening score to concede.
Tries: Grobler, Buthelezi, Mbonambi, Notshe
Cons: Bosch 4
Pens: Bosch 3
Try: Van Wyk
Yellow card: Jannie du Plessis (Lions, 8 – tackling a player without the ball)
Sharks: 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phendulani Buthelezi, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 3 Thomas du Toit (captain), 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Jeandre Labushagne, 21 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Henry Chamberlain.
Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Rabz Maxwane, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Manuel Rass, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Emmanuel Tshituka, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Francke Horn, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel (captain), 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Pieter Botha, 1 Sithembiso Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Morne Brandon, 17 Jean-Pierre Smith, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Sibusiso Sangweni, 20 Jarod Cairns, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Henco van Wyk, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel.
Referee: Ben Blain (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa), Griffin Colby (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Additional source: @URCOfficial