Sharks battle past Lions in Currie Cup victory

Dylan Richardson of the Cell C Sharks drives into Gianni Lombard of the Fidelity ADT Lions during the 2023 Currie Cup match between Sharks and Lions held at Kings Park in Durban.

Dylan Richardson of the Cell C Sharks drives into Gianni Lombard of the Fidelity ADT Lions during the 2023 Currie Cup match at Kings Park in Durban on 3 June 2023. Picture: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Published Jun 3, 2023


Cape Town - The Sharks and Lions were locked in a titanic Currie Cup battle in Durban on Saturday, with the home side edging it in the final 10 minutes of the match to secure a 29-21 victory at Kings Park.

With the bonus point win, the home side is still on top of the log after being briefly displaced by the Cheetahs earlier on Saturday.

Only the Free State side can still knock the Sharks off the top spot and advantage for a home final, but the Sharks will look to secure first place when they face a desperate Western Province in the final round-robin match next Saturday in Durban.

Two tries in the second half by replacement prop Ntuthuko Mchunu secured the victory for the Sharks after they made a slow start to the match allowing the Lions to dictate the play.

It was all Lions at the start of the game as they piled on the pressure looking for an early advantage. They got the ascendency after the home side made error upon error, while giving away penalties in the process.

The Johannesburg side scored two tries in the first 16 minutes of the match when flanker Emmanuel Tshituka and tighthead prop Ruan Dreyer went over for the first two scores.

The Lions dominated in the early exchanges and should have been up by more than 14-0 after getting the converted tries. But they fumbled chances when they were within striking range and allowed the Sharks to stay in the game.

That was all the motivation the home side needed and they finally kicked into gear just before the 30-minute mark.

After camping in the Lions' 22m area, hooker Fez Mbatha went over from close range to kickstart his team's fightback.

Shortly after he went over, winger Aphelele Fassi lapped up a wide pass by Lions captain Marius Louw out on the wing and intercepted it with a smile to run in untouched.

That's the try that took the game to 14-all at halftime.

It was a proper arm wrestle after the break as both sides tried to find the ascendency in the second forty, but Mchunu's try four minutes after the break, gave the second-half advantage to the home side.

They took control of the game and even when the Lions scored a leveller through a converted Sanele Nohamba try, it always looked like the Sharks would somehow find a way to win.

They did eventually, but only after some impressive Lions defence when Mchunu burst over for try number two and the lead.

A late converted penalty by fullback Nevaldo Fleurs sealed the game and first place on the log for the Sharks.

The Lions can still mathematically sneak into fourth place, but after the loss, it is most likely the end of their Currie Cup run this season.

Points scorers:

Sharks 29 (14): Tries: Ntuthuko Mchunu (2), Fez Mbatha, Aphelele Fassi. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (3). Penalty: Nevaldo Fleurs.

Lions 21 (14): Tries: Emmanuel Tsithuka, Ruan Dreyer, Sanele Nohamba. Conversions: Nohamba (3).


IOL Sport