Lions take opener

30 June 2007

The Golden Lions scored a hard-earned 14-7 victory over the Sharks in a tough ABSA Currie Cup encounter at Ellis Park in the Sharks’ opening tournament match.

It was a less than convincing victory, and if the Sharks had done more with their possession, it might have been a different matter, as it was a match they certainly could have won, but crucial turn-overs at crucial times cost them the match.

It all started out well for the visitors, as the Sharks spent the first quarter of an hour camped in the Lions’ half, but failed to capitalise, and it wasn’t until the 15th minute that the Lions finally managed to find themselves deep in Sharks’ territory, only to cough up ball themselves in what was to become a characteristic of the match – for both sides.

After half an hour of play, the Sharks had built up a good number of fantastic opportunities, and with 65% possession, would have been severely disappointed that they had no reward to show for their efforts.

The Lions scrum, without too much change from the Super 14, certainly gave the Sharks a torrid time in the set pieces and at the breakdowns, and for a team who had lost the most number of frontline players of any side in the competition, they had a tough time of it.

They battled gamely though and certainly held the upper hand, especially in the loose where the backline did well, and it was in that context that they would have been disappointed going into the break behind, trailing by a solitary penalty in a low-scoring half.

Somewhat against the run of play, it was the Lions who seized the advantage on the scoreboard with a penalty by Jano Vermaak, with fellow scrumhalf, the Sharks’ Rory Kockott, having two tough attempts, on both times narrowly missing as the first half ran its course.

The Lions struck first in the second half with a cheeky drop to go into a nine point lead, and it just seemed that everything the Sharks tried turned to dust as they battled to do enough with the ball they had.

At one stage they spent four minutes camped on the Lions tryline, hammering away without success as the Lions defence held strong. It was an outstanding effort from the home side who finally took the game away from the Sharks when man of the match Cobus Grobbelaar, playing in his 50th Currie Cup match, managed to elude the tacklers and score.

The conversion attempt missed, despite being from right in front, and this opened the door to a bonus point for the Sharks, who duly took the point on offer when Gcobani Bobo rounded off an exciting movement and Rory Kockott added the two.

AJ Venter admitted afterwards that, “It was amazing, intense, like a Test match. The Lions taught us a few lessons tonight, that if you don’t have good scrum ball and are knocked back at the set pieces, you are going to battle, and they were the victors in those two phases.”


Sharks: 7 (0)
Tries: Gcobani Bobo
Conversions: Rory Kockott

Golden Lions: 14 (3)
Tries: Cobus Grobbelaar
Penalties: Jano Vermaak (2)
Drop-goals: Jaco van Schalkwyk (1)

15. Odwa Ndungane, 14. Howard Noble, 13. Adrian Jacobs, 12. Grant Rees, 11. Henno Mentz, 10. Bradley Barritt, 9. Rory Kockott, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. AJ Venter (Capt), 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Alistair Hargreaves, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Patric Cilliers, 2. Skipper Badenhorst, 1. Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira.
Reserves: 16. Jody Jenneker, 17. Robbie Harris, 18. Warren Britz, 19. Keegan Daniel, 20. Scott Mathie, 21. Monty Dumond, 22. Gcobani Bobo.

Golden Lions:
15. Louis Ludik, 14. Tobela Mdaka, 13. Jannie Boshoff, 12. Doppies la Grange, 11. Ryno Benjamin, 10. Jaco van Schalkwyk, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Willem Alberts, 7. Ernst Joubert (Capt), 6. Cobus Grobbelaar, 5. Geo Cronjé, 4. Anton van Zyl, 3. Brian Mujati, 2. Willie Wepener, 1. Heinke van der Merwe.
Reserves: 16. Kenny Mackenzie, 17. Gavin Williamson, 18. Franco van der Merwe, 19. Solly Tyibilika, 20. Freddie van Zyl, 21. Louis Strydom, 22. Thabang Molefe.


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