Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee was red-carded in the second half and the Sharks used the advantage to dig themselves out of a deep hole for a 47-31 Currie Cup victory at Ellis Park on Saturday night.
The Durbanites looked to be dead and buried after the Lions raced to a 31-5 lead early in the second half. But Coetzee was sent off minutes later, after his left boot inadvertently made contact with the head of Sharks flanker Jacques Vermeulen, and the coastal team responded emphatically to score 42 unanswered points.
Tries from Lubabalo Mtembu, Louis Schreuder, John-Hubert Meyer, Keegan Daniel and a Vermeulen brace – as well as a penalty-try – overhauled the Lions’ tally gathered through tries from Rohan Janse Van Rensburg, Jacques Nel, Anthony Volmink, Marco Janse van Vuuren and Fabian Booysen.
After holding onto possession for a lengthy period, Rohan Janse van Rensburg scored a try for the Lions and the first points of the game. The gargantuan inside centre gathered a cheeky grubber from fly-half Jaco Van Der Walt, who later converted the try, following a perfectly timed run through the Sharks defensive line.
After 14 minutes, the away side scored another try. Outside centre Jacques Nel chipped and chased his ball for over 50 meters and gathered it to score after Sharks centurion winger Odwa Ndungane failed to stop the ball’s movement. Van Der Walt converted again, this time from a tight, wide left angle to make the scoreline read 14-0.
Minutes later the Lions scored a third, this time unconverted try through winger Anthony Volminck. Full-back Sylvian Mahuza dummied and looped around numerous Sharks defenders before Volminck eventually received the ball to score unopposed in the right corner. Reserve forward Marco Janse van Vuuren scored the fourth, diving over from the base of a ruck to score with an open try line in front of him. Van Der Walt made it 24-0.
After the half-time hooter, the home side pulled one back. Tera Mtembu scored after collecting an inside pass from Bernhard Janse van Rensburg. Garth April missed the conversion from directly in front of the posts which left the half-time score at 24-5 to the Lions.
The Lions picked up where they left off as early as the 44th minute with another converted try. Suprisingly hot stepping from reserve forward Hacjivah Dayimani ended with a pass to support runner Fabian Booysen who dotted down. The Sharks scored the next converted try through Jacques Vermeulen, who showed immense strength to power past three Lions defenders to score. This was followed by a red card for Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee, who kicked Vermeulen in the face after scoring the try.
The Sharks scored a penalty try after repeated scrum infringements soon after the red card to make the score 31-19. The game’s momentum started to swing in their favour, which was reflected in the 77 percent possession the home side had in the second half at this point.
Another massive Sharks shove in the scrum saw Tera Mtumbu pick up and offload to the galloping reserve scrum-half Louis Schreuder who scored a converted bonus point try.
The comeback was completed after 67 minutes. Reserve forward John-Hubert Meyer scored a converted try after the Sharks drove forward after a line-out. Vermuelen scored his brace and extended the home side’s lead to 9 points after April converted.
Keegan Daniel scored another converted try for the Sharks after the Lions couldn’t hang onto an Ndungane kick-through. The final score read 47-31 to the Sharks.
For Golden Lions:
Tries: Van Rensburg, Nel, Volmink, Janse van Vuuren, Booysen
Cons: Van der Walt
Red Card: Coetzee
Tries: Mtembu, Schreuder, Meyer, Vermeulen 2, Penalty try, Daniel
Cons: April 5
Golden Lions: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Ryan Kankowski (captain), 7 Fabian Booysen, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Robert Kruger, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Sithembiso Sithole, 18 Bobby de Wee, 19 Hacjivah Dayimani, 20 Marco Janse van Vuuren, 21 Siya Masuku, 22 Aphiwe Dyantyi
Sharks: 15 Garth April, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Sibusiso Nkosi, 10 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Inny-Christian Radebe, 18 Juan Schoeman, 19 John-Hubert Meyer, 20 Jean Droste, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Mzamo Majola, 23 Wian Vosloo
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Jaco Pretorius, Eduan Nel
TMO: Willie Vos