Home Sport Lions give Sharks ugly mauling at Ellis Park

Lions give Sharks ugly mauling at Ellis Park

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Following this result, the Lions elevate themselves into contention for the top eight, while the Sharks have lost 10 of 11 matches, and that is a nightmare beyond comprehension for their supporters.

Marius Louw and JC Pretorius of the Emirates Lions in action with Coenie Oosthuizen of Hollywoodbets Sharks during the BKT United Rugby Championship match at, Emirates Airlines Park in Johannesburg, South Africa – 02 Mar 2024. Picture: Steve Haag Sports, INPHO, Shutterstock (14371880x)

Mike Greenaway

THE Sharks sunk through the bottom of the United Rugby Championship cellar after an ugly 40-10 hiding at Ellis Park but kudos to the Lions for holding their nerve before handsomely reaping the five log points they desperately wanted.

There was indeed an experimental look to the side John Plumtree picked but to lose by 30 points to the third-best South African team will plunge Durban into depression.

The Lions elevate themselves into contention for the top eight, while the Sharks have lost 10 of 11 matches, and that is a nightmare beyond comprehension for their supporters.

The Sharks sank without a trace in the second half, failing to score a point, while the Lions harvested 21 points to roar home easily after the first half had been hotly contested.

A purple patch by Lions scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba did the damage in the opening quarter.

Plumtree’s most significant selection had been the halfback pairing of Siya Masuku and Grant Williams and while they both played well enough, Williams’ opposite number Nohamba was red-hot.

Ironically, the Sharks scored first after Jordan Hendrikse overcooked the kick-off.

From the scrum on the centre spot, the Sharks attacked and earned a penalty for Masuku to kick over.

That good start did not last long. First Nohamba broke the Sharks’ defence with a blindside break and only a superb cover tackle by former Free Stater George Cronje stopped a try, but a minute later the little magician stepped superbly through the defence for a try under the crossbar.

Hendrikse then kick-passed to the ever-mobile No.8 Franke Horn on the far touchline and he passed inside to former Blitzbok JC Pretorius for a run to the line.

Nohamba wasn’t finished. When Coenie Oosthuizen went offside in his 22, Nohamba cleverly switched blind after a series of phases to set up fullback Quan Horn for a dart to the corner.

It was 19-3 after 22 minutes but, to be fair to the Sharks, they twice had players held up over the line, first Aphelele Fassi and later Ntuthuko Mchunu.

A rare mistake from Nohamba gave the Sharks some relief. He had attempted to chip-kick over the defence near the halfway line but was charged down. Masuku swooped onto the ball and worked well with the young centre Ethan Hooker to set up a finish for former Griquas flyer Eduan Keyter.

The Sharks enjoyed their best period of the half just before half-time, and what a pity a fine team try finished by Fassi was cancelled because of foul play in the build-up.

It was Mchunu who the TMO caught charging armless – and mindlessly – into the side of a ruck.

That would have made it 19-17 at the break but instead the Sharks trailed by 10 points.

The Sharks started the second half well enough after a 20-minute thunderstorm interval but they squandered a host of opportunities.

And when captain Bongi Mbonambi’s unhappy afternoon with referee Aimee Barrett-Theron concluded with his sin-binning for pulling down a maul, the visitors had shot their bolt.

Replacement Conraad van Vuuren crashed over from a close quarter ruck, and the bonus was nailed after a clever chip over the top by Morne van den Berg found Erich Cronje, who gathered and scored.

Another replacement forward, Hanru Sirgel, scored the sixth try to deepen the Sharks’ embarrassment.

Scorers

Sharks – Try: Eduarn Keyter. Penalty: Siya Masuku. Conversion: Masuku.

Lions – Tries: Sanele Nohamba, JC Pretorius, Quan Horn, Conraad van Vuuren, Erich Cronje, Hanru Sirgel. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (5).

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