Durban — The Sharks had to sweat in the end to dispose of a plucky Lions team 45-31 at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday evening to maintain their unbeaten status in the Currie Cup, and send out a warning that they are going to take some beating if they can sort out their discipline.
The Sharks should have comfortably cruised home in the second half but they gave away a flurry of yellow cards to bring the Lions back into the game.
With another Sharks squad in Italy to prepare for a URC match against Benetton next Saturday, this Sharks team nevertheless was resplendent with players with URC experience which confirms just how much quality depth is building at the Shark Tank, and they were up against a winless Lions team of mostly youngsters just out of the Under-21 ranks
But it was the Lions that opened the scoring, and in quite sensational fashion too when right wing Boldwin Hansen followed up a touch finder and held onto a favourable bounce, and he had a clear 50m run to the posts.
The Sharks immediately struck back when the Lions could not clear from the restart and the ball was worked out to Marnus Potgieter and the right wing finished neatly.
It took 20 minutes before the Sharks scored again, a dart around the blind side of a scrum by Cameron Wright after a tighthead had been won. Wright fully deserved the score after having got his team deep into the Lions’ 22 thanks to a fine box kick.
And on the half-hour mark, in spite of the Sharks’ heavy domination upfront, Chamberlain kicked a penalty from in front and then on the stroke of half-time he stroked home a monster from inside his half to give the Sharks a comfortable 20-7 lead.
While the Lions would have been pleased to be more or less still in the game, there was a suspicion that the Sharks would run away with it in the second half such was the solidity of their set pieces and the slick form of Wright and Chamberlain.
And when the second half started with the Sharks camping in the Lions 22 for five minutes and then scoring through human steam roller Thembelani Bholi, the alarm bells were ringing around the stadium.
But a yellow card to Wright for tackling a Lion without the ball gave the home side a chance to fight back, and they did so when No 8 Emmanuel Tshituka barged over from a lineout maul.
Again the Sharks struck back straight after a Lions try, this time it was their own No 8, Mpilo Gumede who scored the bonus-point try.
The Lions were in no mood to roll over and die, though, and wing Divan Rossouw scored a lovely try after a strong run by Vincent Tshituka.
The Sharks settled matters down with a penalty goal in front of the sticks by Sanele Nohamba, who was on for Wright, and as the game hit the three-quarter mark, he kicked another and the Sharks sere 38-19 up.
The visitors were over the hills and far away when substitute hooker Dan Jooste came on and scored.
But as the Sharks’ discipline collapsed, Lions substitutes Morne Brandon and James Mollentze scored tries to give the score respectability
Lions — 31: Tries: Boldwin Hansen, Emmanuel Tshituka, Vincent Tshituka, Morne Brandon, James Mollentze. Conversions: Vaughen Isaacs (3).
Sharks — 45: Tries: Marnus Potgieter, Cameron Wright, Thembelani Bholi, Mpilo Gumede, Dan Jooste. Conversions: Boeta Chamberlain (2), Sanele Nohamba. Penalties: Chamberlain (2), Nohamba (2).