High-flying Sharks edge Lions
The Sharks will finish the weekend at the top of the Currie Cup standings thanks to a 31-15 win over the Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Friday.
The sides scored three tries each in a ding-dong battle that saw the lead change hands regularly.
The result means the Sharks move back above Western Province by virtue of a superior points difference at the summit of the table after eight rounds.
The Lions scored 17 unanswered points to come from 3-16 down to lead 20-16 at the interval.
The Sharks turned the game around to out-score the Lions 15-9 in the second period, as the home side struggled to capitalise on their dominance in set-plays, particularly in the scrum, where they dominated the Sharks throughout.
The Sharks dominated the proceedings early on with fly-half Fred Zeilinga shining, scoring 16 points - starting with two drop goals before creating, scoring and converting a try!
Zeilinga rounded-off a move he initiated on the halfway line, having off-loaded to a teammate, before getting the ball back and trotting home for the visitors' first try of the night. The youngster added a penalty to end a brilliant first quarter for the visitors.
The Lions came storming back however and tries from loose forwards Derick Minnie and Warren Whiteley gave the hosts the lead at the break.
Zeilinga landed a penalty from inside his own home to start the second half before a breakaway try by full-back SP Marais put the Sharks back in front.From a quick penalty tap, Charl McLeod sliced open the Lions defence with a superb run deep into opposition territory. McLeod then found Marais on his inside and got a neat pass away to set up the full-back.
But the Lions responded through Jaco Kriel, who added his name to the scoresheet as the home side regained the lead. A bustling break from the Lions allowed Kriel to receive a pass inside the Sharks' 22-metre line, before bursting through two tackles and dotting down, to complete a hat-trick for the Lions back row.
Just when the Lions thought they had done enough, the Sharks went straight back in front, as Cobus Reinach sent his marker the other way with a superb side-step, and dived over the line, before Zeilinga added the additional points to stretch the lead to six, just 10 minutes from time.
The Sharks were forced into their own area for the rest of the match as the Lions went in search of the victory, but the visitors were able to hold on for a nervy final eight minutes - which saw the TMO turn down a Lions try - to secure four points.
For Golden Lions:
Tries: Minnie, Whiteley, Kriel
Cons: Jantjies 2
Pens: Jantjies 2
Tries: Zeilinga, Marais, Reinach
Cons: Zeilinga 2
Pens: Zeilinga 2
Drops: Zeilinga 2
Golden Lions: 15 Marnitz Boshoff, 14 Andries Coetzee, 13 Deon Helberg, 12 Dylan Des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Derick Minnie (captain), 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 CJ van der Linde.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenberg, 20 Guy Cronjé, 21 Grant Janke, 22 Ruhan Nel.
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Tera Mtembu, 6 Justin Downey, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Peet Marais, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Edwin Hewitt, 19 Bynard Stander, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Butch James, 22 Jaco van Tonder.
Referee: Jason Jaftha