The moment that changed the game – Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee makes contact with Sharks flank Jacques Vermeulen's head, for which Coetzee was red-carded. Photo: Gavin Barker, BackpagePix
The moment that changed the game – Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee makes contact with Sharks flank Jacques Vermeulen's head, for which Coetzee was red-carded. Photo: Gavin Barker, BackpagePix
Lions No 8 Ryan Kankowski is stopped in his tracks by his former team. Photo: Gavin Barker, BackpagePix
Lions No 8 Ryan Kankowski is stopped in his tracks by his former team. Photo: Gavin Barker, BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – The Sharks fought back from a 26-point deficit to beat the Golden Lions 47-31 in their Currie Cup match at Ellis Park on Saturday.

This game all hinged on one moment in the second half, when Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee was red-carded for a piece of foul play.

At that stage, the Sharks trailed 31-5 after 45 minutes, but they received a glimmer of hope when Jacques Vermeulen went over to score, while Coetzee was red-carded for a boot to the face of the Sharks flank in the process of grounding the ball.

It turned out to be the game-defining moment, with the Sharks earning a penalty try almost immediately after, while Louis Schreuder then darted over to score just before the hour mark.

That suddenly cut the deficit to just five points heading into the final quarter, while replacement prop John-Hubert Meyer then barged over to score, while the conversion sent the visitors into the lead for the first time.

From there, Vermeulen scored his second try in the 75th minute, while Keegan Daniel added one more before fulltime to complete a quite remarkable comeback.

Michael Claassens of the Sharks (centre) scores a try and is embraced by Jacques Vermeulen (left) and John-Hubert Meyer. Photo: Gavin Barker, BackpagePix

It was an almost unimaginable result after a first half when the Lions made an early statement, with two well-worked tries to Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Jacques Nel.

The Lions then roared into a 19-0 lead after a beautiful piece of attacking play saw Anthony Volmink put away to score in the corner.

Matters only appeared to be going from bad to worse for the Sharks as they began to struggle at lineout time, while Marco Janse van Vuren barged over for the Lions’ fourth try just before the half-hour mark.

At 24-0 down, the Sharks had it all to do, but they did manage to manufacture a lifeline when a lovely break from Benhard Janse van Rensburg set up a try for Tera Mtembu with the final play of the half.

That try was quickly cancelled out when Lions flank Fabian Booysen was put away to score soon after the restart, but the Lions then completely lost their way after the red card to Coetzee.

Points-Scorers

Golden Lions 31 – Tries: Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Jacques Nel, Anthony Volmink, Marco Janse van Vuren, Fabian Booysen. Conversions: Jaco van der Walt (3).

Sharks 47 – Tries: Tera Mtembu, Jacques Vermeulen (2), Penalty Try, Louis Schreuder, John-Hubert Meyer, Keegan Daniel. Conversions: Garth April (5).

African News Agency (ANA)