Lions flank Jaco Kriel tries to burst through the Sharks defence. Kriel later scored the winning try. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Curwin Bosch produced the magic, but it was not enough to help his team get over the line in a stunner of a Super Rugby match here on Saturday night.

After a pulsating 80 minutes, it was the Lions who got up to take the spoils 34-29 – their fifth win in six matches.

The 19-year-old Sharks pivot was sensational in everything he did in this epic round-six match, but one mistake late in the game cost his side the chance of winning – or drawing – the match.

Man-of-the-Match Bosch first hit the crossbar with a 50-metre drop-goal attempt in the 75th minute, which would have put all the pressure on the Lions as the score was deadlocked at 29-29.

And then minutes later he missed touch with a clearance kick, allowing the home team to counter-attack and score the winning try.

Lions fullback Andries Coetzee gathered the ball on the halfway line, charged upfield and offloaded to Kwagga Smith, who sent Jaco Kriel on his way.

It ensured the win for the home team; their ninth in a row at home in Super Rugby, going back nearly a year.

Bosch though produced a wonderful performance at flyhalf and his reputation continues to grow, but there were several stars in this Sharks team – but they’ll be the first to admit they didn’t do enough in a dominant first half to win the contest.

The Lions will breathe a sigh of relief, but hats off to them... they found their game in the second 40 minutes and when it mattered, they delivered the goods.

They upped the intensity and pace of their game in the second half, and probably just edged their opponents over the 80 minutes.

The Sharks though did what no team have managed to do to the Lions at home since the Hurricanes won so convincingly here almost a year ago – and that is put them under pressure and rush them into making decisions.

They not only dominated the set-pieces, they also won the collisions and bossed the breakdowns, often ripping the ball from the home team’s players – and the Lions didn’t have an answer.

Coach Johan Ackermann’s side gave away a good few penalties and found themselves pinned in their own half for long periods at a time.

Bosch kicked superbly out of hand and he oozed class behind a pack that was in control of everything upfront – and it was a bruising forwards battle.

The young flyhalf opened the scoring with a three-pointer after just two minutes, and then it was the turn of prop Coenie Oosthuizen to stun the home team.

He showed great pace to score next to the uprights after wing Kobus van Wyk – who gave the Lions problems out wide all evening – had made the initial bust in midfield.

Elton Jantjies and Bosch then exchanged penalties before the Sharks man slotted a 50-metre drop-goal to put his side 16-6 up.

But a yellow card to lock Etienne Oosthuizen for a neck roll on a Lions player opened the door for Malcolm Marx to drive over the line from a lineout.

Jantjies’ touchline conversion closed the gap to three points at the interval.

The thrill-a-minute encounter continued where it left off after the restart when Courtnall Skosan finished superbly after Faf de Klerk had broken down the blindside, and then a drop goal from nowhere by Andries Coetzee put the Lions 23-16 up.

The home team were now in charge, winning more collisions and seeing more ball, but against the run of play, Van Wyk scored a converted try to level the scores at 23-23.

Bosch and Jantjies then traded penalties to leave the score at 29-29 before the Sharks man’s 50m drop-goal effort hit the crossbar and bounced favourably for the Lions, who went upfield and scored what would be the game-clinching try.


Lions 34 – Tries: Malcolm Marx, Courtnall Skosan, Jaco Kriel. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalties: Jantjies (4). Drop Goal: Andries Coetzee (1).

Sharks 29 – Tries: Coenie Oosthuizen, Kobus van Wyk. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Bosch (4). Drop Goal: Bosch (1).

Independent Media