Sharks suffer second loss of the campaign after clinical half by Lions

Golden Lions defeat Sharks in scintillating Currie Cup clash

Athenkosi Tsotsi Sports Reporter
Ilunga Mukendi of the Lions wins possession during the Currie Cup, Premier Division match between Fidelity ADT Lions and Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park on April 01, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ilunga Mukendi of the Lions wins possession during the Currie Cup, Premier Division match between Fidelity ADT Lions and Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park on April 01, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

The Golden Lions defeated the Sharks 34-22 at Ellis Park  in the Currie Cup, thanks to a clinical performance in the second half.

The game, which served as a curtain raiser for the Challenge Cup Round of 16 clash between the Lions and Racing 92 at 6.30pm, delivered to the expectations and lived up to the standards the Currie Cup has set so far this season.  

The win was the second of the season for the Lions while the Sharks suffered their second loss of the campaign.  

Both teams fielded players with rugby experience in domestic and multi-national competitions, many would want to use the Currie Cup as an opportunity to knock on the doors of the United Rugby Championship and European competition squads.  

The opening ten minutes of the first half saw the teams sizing each other, looking at what tactical approaches they would take. The two sides started with the ball in hand approach, which led to some hard crunching tackles that shaked off any signs of rustiness.  

The home side was the first to put points on the board thanks to fullback Tiaan Swanepoel. He was set up by  Jarod Cairns, who broke the Sharks' defence line and stepped his way through a few bodies before a one-hand offload to Swanepoel who made his way to the try line.  

The Joburg side would then be pinned in their half from the restart. The Sharks were smelling blood as they went on an attack seeking five points. Credit must go to the Lions who stood their ground through multiple attack phases from their coastal visitors. They put their bodies on the line, doubling up in defence to push the Sharks away from the white line. They even impressively defused two driving mauls. 

The Sharks finally broke the Lions' defence wall when their scrum pushed back beyond the white line, hooker Fez Mbatha, dotted the ball down for five points. The Sharks had their tails up, they had asserted dominance and kept the scoreboard ticking via a converted try by Thembelani Bholi on the stroke of halftime.  

The Sharks went to the halftime break leading 12-5.  

The second half is usually difficult for the visiting team because of the altitude at the highveld. Often teams tire down and the Lions were looking to use their familiarity with the conditions to their advantage.  

Mzwakhe Nkosi’s team went into the attack immediately after the restart. They were awarded a penalty try when  Masikane Mazwi infringed Tyler Bocks as he looked set to be on his way to score. That took the score to 12-12.  

Mazwi would be sent to the sin bin for his sin and was then joined by Bholi who was given a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. With the Sharks playing with 13 for ten minutes, the Lions looked to capitalise on their numerical advantage.  

The Lions knew the Sharks were there for the taking, they relentlessly attacked as they looked to add to the scoreboard. Right before the duo that was sat on the sin bins returned to the field, Lions scrumhalf Nico Steyn scored a scrappy converted try to give his side a 19-12 lead.  

A dogfight then followed as both sides looked to dominate the game. The theory of the altitude was proved right when Lions back Jurich Claasens ran with the ball from his half until the Sharks' 22m line, when he was caught he passed the ball to Renzo du Plessis who then offloaded to Steyn when 5m away from the try line. Steyn scored his second try of the match to take the score to 24-12.  

The Sharks refused to throw in the towel with ten minutes left, substitute Hyron Andrews threw his side a lifeline when he flew over to the white line for a converted try. With the score at 24-19, there was plenty to play. The Lions put the game to bed with a penalty from Isaacs who slotted in three points from the 40m line. Lionel Cronje responded with a penalty of his but it was not enough as the Lions won 34 – 22 thanks to a converted try by Ruhan Straeuli. 

HT: Lions 5 – 12 Sharks 

FT: Lions 34 – 22  




Try: Tiaan Swanepoel, Penalty Try, Nico Steyn (2), Ruhan Straeuli 

Con: Vaughen Isaacs (2) 

Pen Vaughen Isaacs 


Try: Fez Mbatha, Thembelani Bholi,  Hyron Andrews 

Con: Fred Zeilinga, Lionel Cronje 

Pen: Lionel Cronje 


Lions: 1. Sti Sithole, 2. Jaco Visagie (C), 3. Ruan Smith, 4.  Raynard Roets, 5. Darrien-Lane Landsberg, 6. Sibusiso Sangweni, 7.  PJ Steenkamp, 8.  Jarod Cairns, 9. Nico Steyn, 10. Vaughen Isaacs, 11. Ilunga Mukendi, 12. Tyler Bocks, 13. Stean Pienaar, 14.  Boldwin Hansen,15. Tiaan Swanepoel


 16. Michael van Vuuren, 17. Morne Brandon, 18. Kabous Bezuidenhout, 19. Ruan Delport, 20. Ruhan Straeuli, 21. Renzo du Plessis, 22. Jurich Claasens, 23. Matt More


1. Khwezi Mona, 2.Fez Mbatha, 3. Khutha Mchunu, 4. Corne Rahl, 5. Reniel Hugo, 6. James Venter, 7. Jeandre Labuschagne, 8. Thembelani Bholi, 9. Bradley Davids, 10. Fred Zeilinga, 11. Alwayno Visagie, 12. Francois Venter, 13. Murray Koster (c)14. Phikolomzi Sobahle, 15. Yaw Penze   

Replacements 16. Masikane Mazwi, 17. Dian Bleuler, 18. Devon Martinus, 19. Hyron Andrews, 20. Damon Royle, 21. Tiaan Fourie, 22. Lionel Cronje, 23. Luyanda Mkhize 


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