The SA Rainbow Cup will be decided at Kings Park next weekend after the Sharks beat the Lions 33-21 in an error-ridden game at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The five points gleaned from the game brought the Sharks to 16 points, four adrift of the Bulls.
This means Sean Everitt’s side need a clear bonus points win over the Bulls next week, while not allowing Jake White’s side to score four tries or come close within seven points from them.
The Sharks did what was necessary of them and when they took a 19-14 lead at halftime it looked like they were not losing the game.
The first half was a spectacle of missed opportunities for both teams. The Lions camped in the Sharks’ 22 for the first 11 minutes of the game and the only thing they had to show for their efforts was Andre Warner’s try when he crashed at close range after kicking a penalty.
When the Sharks got the ball, they moved with determination and used the rolling maul effectively.
While that represented their two tries in the 16th and 32nd minutes thanks to Kerron van Vuuren, the Lions found ways to tame the maul.
The Sharks also had their wasted moments in the 22 Lions, but they also had the misfortune of losing promising mainstay Ntuthuko Mchunu to injury in the 25th minute.
The Lions were also in the same boat at the half hour mark when free forward Vincent Tshituka was stretched and replaced by his brother Emmanuel.
While the Lions were still reeling from Vincent’s loss, the Sharks scored their second try thanks to Van Vuuren leading 12-7.
They made it 19-7 in the 39th minute when Phendulani “Phepsi” Buthelezi was the recipient of a great move which started with Mapimpi cutting a strip through the Lions defense and knocking out Courtnall Skosan before moving on to Jaden Hendrikse.
The scrum-half passed to Buthelezi, who scored under the posts. In what became a long period of play after the siren, the Lions reduced the score to 19-14 thanks to a try from Len Massyn.
The Sharks returned to the act of scoring by Mapimpi when he again forced his way through the Lions defense in the 47th minute to give the Sharks a 26-14 lead.
PJ Botha breathed life into the Lions with a try of a rolling maul to cut the deficit to five points, but they were unable to physically train the Sharks.
The Sharks were denied a 63rd-minute try from a rolling maul when it was not clear whether inside center Marius Louw had immobilized the ball from a fractured rolling maul.
They put space between them and the hosts when Anthony Volmink scored in the 70th minute, but the Lions shot each other in the foot when MJ Pelser couldn’t hang on to Sibahle Maxwane’s pass. after the winger found himself in a space.
Leo 21 (14)
Essays: Andre Warner, Len Massyn, PJ Botha
Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (3)
Sharks 33 (19)
Tests: Kerron van Vuuren (2), Phendulani Buthelezi, Makazole Mapimpi, Boeta Chamberlain
Conversions: Mania Libbok (3), Chamberlain
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