The Sharks overturned a 26-point deficit to clinch a stunning 47-31 win over a 14-man Lions side at Ellis Park on Saturday night. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Consider for a moment that the Sharks trailed 31-5 after 45 minutes. At that stage, the game looked as good as won for the Lions, but then came a game-changing flashpoint.
Flanker Jacques Vermeulen barged over to score what appeared to possibly be a consolation try for the Sharks in the 50th minute, but in the process of planting the ball, Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee’s boot made contact with his face.
After reviewing the footage, Coetzee was red carded for the reckless and dangerous play, while minutes later the Sharks were awarded a penalty try for a dominant scrum against the Lions’ disrupted pack.
Suddenly, at 31-19 it was game on again, while just before the hour mark Louis Schreuder darted over to score after another dominant Sharks to scrum to help reduce the deficit to just five points heading into the final quarter.
With momentum having completely swung in favour of the Sharks, John-Hubert Meyer then barged over to score, while the conversion sent the visitors into the lead for the first time.
The Sharks then completed their incredible comeback when Vermeulen and Keegan Daniel both scored during the final stages of this thrilling encounter.
It had been the Lions who made all of the early running, with the Sharks’ defence having been exposed when Rohan Janse van Rensburg pounced on a well-weighted grubber to go over for the opening try.
The free-flowing Lions quickly struck twice more before the half-an-hour mark, with well-worked tries finished off by Jacques Nel, Anthony Volmink and Marco Janse van Vuren.
It sent the Lions into a commanding 24-0 lead, and considering this was the Sharks’ third match in just eight days, it looked like a long way back from there for the visitors.
Yet, the Sharks did manage to manufacture a lifeline when a lovely break from Benhard Janse van Rensburg set up a try for Tera Mtembu nearly four minutes after regular time had elapsed in the first half.
And while the Lions scored first after the restart when Fabian Booysen was put away to score under the posts, then came the drama-filled final half an hour that saw the Sharks complete a remarkable comeback, albeit with a one-man advantage.
Golden Lions – Tries: Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Jacques Nel, Anthony Volmink, Marco Janse van Vuren, Fabian Booysen. Conversions: Jaco van der Walt (3).
Sharks – Tries: Tera Mtembu, Jacques Vermeulen (2), penalty try, Louis Schreuder, John-Hubert Meyer, Keegan Daniel. Conversions: Garth April (5).
Golden Lions – 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Ryan Kankowski (c), 7 Fabian Booysen, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Robert Kruger, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Corné Fourie.
Subs: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Bobby de Wee, 19 Hacjivan Dayimani, 20 Marco Janse van Vuren, 21 Siya Masuku, 22 Aphiwe Dyantyi.
Sharks – 15 Garth April, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Marius Louw, 11 S’busiso Nkosi, 10 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha (c), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Inny Radebe.
Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix