Sharks into Currie Cup final
Pat Itanyi
October 20, 2018

The Cell C Sharks had to weather a thrilling comeback from the Xerox Golden Lions before they squeezed home 33-24 in the first semifinal of the Currie Cup Premier Division at Jonsson Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

The home team seemed to have the match well in hand at halftime after they had dominated play, particularly up front, and scored two tries as they eased into a 18-3 lead.

And when powerful winger Sbu Nkosi darted over for his second try from the opening kickoff in the second half, the Sharks looked home and dry.

Perhaps the Sharks believed that themselves, for their play became looser and more error-ridden as they took their feet off the accelerator.

The Lions, who for much of the game lived off scraps of possession, then showed their fighting qualities to give the home team a big fright as tries from skipper Nic Groom and a brace from wing Courtnall Skosan made it a two-point game with 10 minutes to go.

The Sharks, realising they needed to tighten up their discipline, then stormed down the field to earn a scrum on the Lions’ five-metre line. Dan du Preez picked up the ball from the base and drove powerfully over the line. His brother, Robert, duly converted from the touchline to give his team some breathing space with just six minutes to go.

The Lions went back onto the attack but a turnover and a penalty enabled the Sharks to close out the game in the dying moments, earning themselves a place in next week’s final.

The Sharks went into the match as strong favourites, largely due to their experienced pack that was full of Springboks. Initially, it seemed that the predictions were all too accurate as the Lions made two early mistakes to gift the Sharks a scrum on their five-metre line.

Wing Lwazi Mvovo sucked in three Lions’ defenders after receiving the ball from scrum-half Louis Schreuder before cleverly off-loading to a charging Dan du Preez, who powered over.

Robert du Preez added a penalty after 10 minutes as the Sharks continued to dominate before the home side scored a brilliant team try at the end of the first quarter.

Nkosi began the move which was carried on by centre Marius Louw before the wing was on hand to sprint over in the right hand corner.

Mvovo went off with a suspected concussion midway through the half, but the Sharks continued to dominate up front, though they failed to finish off some promising moves. Jantjies put the Lions on the board for the first time with a penalty shortly before the end of the half, but the Sharks seemed to be comfortably in charge at the break.

The Lions, having given away another try to Nkosi at the start of the second half, then struck back in remarkable fashion as the course of the match changed dramatically. In the 55th minute, Mapoe broke the line with a powerful run before off-loading to Groom who strolled over under the posts.

The territory and possession stakes had now turned in favour of the tigerish Lions, who were increasingly causing the Sharks problems. An extraordinary series of counter-attacks from both teams finally led to a wild pass from the Sharks that was gratefully accepted by Skosan, who sped over.

Back came the Sharks with Du Preez’s third penalty before an ice-cool Jantjies, who had enjoyed an excellent match both with the boot and ball in hand, cross-kicked with meticulous accuracy for Skosan to complete his second try. Jantjies’ conversion made the score 26-24 and glory beckoned for the brave visitors with 10 minutes to go.

But it was the Sharks who regained their momentum and their discipline in the closing minutes with Dan du Plessis finally making the game safe for the home team.


Cell C Sharks: - Tries: Dan du Preez (2), Sbu Nkosi (2).Conversions: Robert du Preez (2).Penalties: Du Preez (3) Xerox Golden Lions: - Tries: Nick Groom, Courtnall Skosan (2).Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3). Penalty: Jantjies.

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