The defending champion Golden Lions kept their Vodacom Cup hopes alive with a 27-20 (halftime 10-13) victory over the Sharks XV in their quarterfinal at Kings Park 2 in Durban on Friday.
The Lions, who found themselves trailing by 10 points after 20 minutes of the game, turned in a strong second-half performance to emerge as deserved victors as they ran in three tries to two
Sharks XV flyhalf Jaco van Tonder and his opposite number Willie du Plessis exchanged early penalties before the hosts, who had the better of the first quarter, grabbed the first try of the match when No 8 Johan Meyer bulldozed his way over after taking the scoring pass from lock Edwin Hewitt.
The hosts extended their lead through a 20th minute Van Tonder penalty and they were only denied from adding to their lead by some tenacious defence from the Lions.
The Sharks XV loose trio of Meyer, Khaya Majola and Francois Kleinhans were all featuring strongly on attack but it was the visitors who scored the last points of the half thanks to a superb team try in the 35th minute.
Fullback Wynand Willis sparked a move 60 metres out before the ball went through the hands of left wing Selom Gavor and eighthman Ruaan Lerm before outside centre Nicolaas Hanekom was on hand to round off the converted try.
The Sharks XV took a narrow three-point lead in to the halftime break but the second half belonged almost exclusively to the Lions.
The visitors took the lead eight minutes after the restart after a lineout five metres from the Sharks XV’s line saw the ball swung down the backline to allow Willis to take advantage of the overlap to score a converted try.
The Lions extended their lead six minutes later after a powerful rolling maul, which split the Sharks XV’s defence wide open, allowed flank Stephan de Wet to crash over for another converted try.
Du Plessis kicked a 59th minute penalty to make sure of the victory despite a late consolation try for the hosts from former Springbok wing Jongi Nokwe.
SHARKS XV – Tries: Johan Meyer, Jongi Nokwe; Conversions: Jaco van Tonder, Duncan Campbell; Penalties: Van Tonder (2)
GOLDEN LIONS – Tries: Nicolaas Hanekom, Wynand Willis, Stephan de Wet; Conversions: Willie du Plessis (3); Penalties: Du Plessis (2).