February 17, 2018 - In a match where the outcome was in the balance right up to the final whistle, the Lions managed to hold the Sharks out in the last 10 minutes with determined defence to clinch a win and get their Super Rugby campaign off to a winning start.
The Sharks drew first blood in the match when they had an attacking line-out in the Lions 22 and when the ball came down the backline, Flyhalf Robert du Preez had an easy run in under the sticks. He kicked the easy conversion to put the Sharks in a 7-0 lead after just 7 minutes in the match.
The Lions then also scored from an attacking line-out when the ball went down the backline and Lionel Mapoe broke a tackle and scored, Jantjies converted and the score was 7-7.
Then some brilliant play from winger Aphiwe Dyantyi, who got the ball in space on the left sideline from Warren Whiteley. Whiteley again showed his immense value as a ball distributor in this move as he got the ball away to the Wing with quick hands in the tackle, and with only Robert du Preez in front of Dyantyi, he kicked a grubber that he regathered and scored. Jantjies kicked the conversion from the sideline to put the Lions in a 14-7 lead with 24 minutes gone.
Towards the end of the first half the Sharks had an opportunity to score but then conceded a penalty on their own scrum feed 5 metres from the Lions try-line and so the Lions were leading 14-7 at the break.
In the second half the Sharks were quick out of the blocks with a try in the first minute, when winger Nkosi with a lot of work to do, dotted down in the right corner. Robert du Preez missed the difficult conversion, so the Lions lead was cut to 14-12.
Ten minutes into the second half the Lions conceded a scrum penalty on their own 10 metre line and the Sharks went for the poles but missed it to the right.
Andries Coetzee then had a brilliant break down the left and when the ball went down the backline from the ruck 5 metres from the Sharks line, Lionel Mapoe took the outside gap to score his second try. Jantjies converted and it was 21-12 for the Lions with 25 minutes to play.
Andries Coetzee then knocked the sharks kickoff in his own 22, and this set up a scrum for the Sharks deep in the Lions territory. The Sharks played left and set up a ruck, and then employed a skip-pass to Mapimpi out wide who could have walked over for the try. Du Preez converted and once again the Lions lead was cut to just 21-19 with 23 minutues to play
Kwagga Smith then took a quick tap penalty close to the Sharks try-line and scored with Jantjies missing the conversion to make it 26-19 for the Lions with 21 minutes left.
Five minutes later the Sharks conceded a scrum penalty on their own feed just inside their half and Jantjies went for poles but the kick was just short.
With 8 minutes to go the Sharks conceded another penalty just outside their 22, and again Jantjies missed it.
The Sharks then camped in the Lions 22 for the remainder of the match but determined defence held them out and the Lions won the game 26-19. In this period Hacjivah Dayimani affected a crucial turnover at a ruck that was huge in the context of the game.
Aphiwe Dyantyi was named man of the match while Malcolm Marx was voted supporters Man of the match.
Lions: 26 (14)
Tries: Mapoe (2), Dyantyi, Kwagga
Conversions: Jantjies (3)
Sharks: 19 (7)
Tries: Robert du Preez, Nkosi, Mapimpi
Conversions: Robert du Preez (2)