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Durban – Bismarck du Plessis scored a try at the death to give the Sharks a bonus point along with their four for victory over the Lions as they moved top of the Super Rugby table with a 37-23 scoreline at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday night.
The hosts were full value for their win against a plucky visiting team that pushed hard, only to be outscored by four tries to two.
Paul Jordaan, Cobus Reinach and Odwa Ndungane were the other scorers for the coastal side, while Frans Steyn, shifted to flyhalf at the last minute due to Patrick Lambie falling ill, produced a masterclass in kicking with 17 points Francois de Klerk and Deon van Rensburg crossed for Johan Ackermann's side in what turned out to be mere consolation points.
The Sharks began well from the outset with a try after only eight minutes, which came when Warwick Tecklenburg lost the ball in attack and it was spread wide to Lwazi Mvovo, whose grubber kick bounced kindly for Jordaan to gather after fumbling in the air on his way over.
The Lions hit straight back with two Marnitz Boshoff penalties -- the first awarded when Bismarck du Plessis failed to release in a tackle and the second after Marcell Coetzee did not roll away quick enough for referee Jaco Peyper's liking.
However, an error by Willie Wepener allowed the Sharks to win three points straight back via a monster 40 metre Steyn kick as they lead by four after 21 minutes.
The Johannesburg franchise then conceded another three for not retreating 10 metres as another clean Steyn hit, this time from the halfway line, extended the advantage.
The remarkable Sharks number 10 again showed his excellent long-range kicking ability after the half hour when he landed a 55 metre kick when Ruan Combrinck was punished for a late tackle.
Boshoff won the three points back as Reinach entered a ruck from the side, but the home scrumhalf made amends in some style when he picked up the ball following a won line-out and danced his way through the defence to score on the right corner.
Ten minutes into the second half the Sharks had a third try when an attempted Elton Jantjies chip failed to clear Willem Alberts and the pieces were picked up by Coetzee as he spread wide to Ndungane to score in the right corner.
The Lions did manage to pull a try back with 17 minutes to play as De Klerk picked up at the base of a ruck and squeezed his way over.
Ryan Kankowski was subsequently sin-binned for repeated infringements during the build-up to the try and the visitors made full use of that advantage five minutes later when Van Rensburg latched onto Boshoff's well-weighted kick to set up a tense finish.
There was somewhat of an anticlimax for the Lions, though, with Corne Fourie yellow carded after 74 minutes handing the hosts a reprieve.
They made full use of that by scoring in the last minute when the captain drove over following a line-out.
Scorers: Sharks: Tries: Paul Jordaan, Cobus Reinach, Odwa Ndungane, Bismarck du Plessis. Conversions: Frans Steyn (4). Penalties: Steyn (3).
Lions: Tries: Francois de Klerk, Deon van Rensburg. Conversion: Marnitz Boshoff (2). Penalties: Boshoff (3). – Sapa