Sharks stunned by Lions
September 24, 2010
JJ Engelbrecht scored a hat-trick for Western Province © Getty Images
The Golden Lions kept their Currie Cup play-off hopes alive with a dramatic 22-20 victory over the table-topping Natal Sharks in Johannesburg on Saturday evening.
As the clock ticked towards 80 minutes, the Sharks were five points up on the back of a brace of tries from Lwazi Mvovo and one for Odwa Ndungane. However, Ryan Kankowski was sent to the sin bin for stomping on an opponent on 76 minutes, forcing the visitors to see out the remainder of the game with just 14 men.
They finally wilted under intense Lions pressure in the dying seconds when Franco van der Merwe forced his way over with just under 30 seconds of normal time left. The skipper's grounding of the ball had been anything but clear-cut but the try was awarded nonetheless, thus presenting Elton Jantjies with the chance to win it for the Lions.
The young fly-half had not been his usual deadly self with the boot all evening but he delivered when it mattered most, adding the extras to give his side a crucial win which keeps them fifth in the standings, just two points outside the play-off places.
Earlier in the day, the Blue Bulls solidified their hold on third place with a 39-26 victory over a game but limited Leopards side in Potchefstroom.
Jaco Van der Westhuyzen, Jaco Pretorius, Derick Kuün, Hayden Groepes, Francois Hougaard and Stefan Watermeyer all crossed for the reigning champions, while Jacques-Louis Potgieter contributed nine points with the boot.
The Bulls never looked like losing the game but they did not have things all their own way, with the winless Leopards managing two tries of their own, through Dumisani Matyeshana and Cecil Dumond. As well as converting both touchdowns, Clayton Durand also stroked over three penalties.
Western Province survived a late burst from prolific winger Bjorn Basson to defeat the Griquas 48-32 at Newlands on Friday night.
The home side were cruising at 29-3 at the break before Basson bagged three quick-fire tries, including a long-range effort after an interception. Province eventually closed out the result despite Basson's best efforts, moving closer to a home semi-final.
Province were earlier toasting a hat-trick hero of their own after young winger JJ Engelbrecht, fresh from their Under-18 side, showed plenty of finishing prowess to bag a first-half trio of tries. His efforts were supplemented by tries from Springbok centre Jean de Villiers, hooker Deon Fourie and No.8 Duane Vermeulen.
The Griquas 'won' the second-half 29-19, with Burger Schoeman and replacement Jean Stemmet also scoring, but kissed goodbye to their play-off hopes with defeat.
Meanwhile, the Free State Cheetahs kept their hat in the ring for a semi-final spot by thumping the Pumas 59-24 in Bloemfontein.
The home side ran nine tries through some porous defence, wrapping up a try bonus-point before the break. Skipper Adriaan Strauss led the way with a brace, while No.8 Ashley Johnson and prop WP Nel also celebrated doubles.
Springbok Sevens star Robert Ebersohn and replacement centre Corne Uys also bagged tries, as did former Sharks hooker Skipper Badenhorst.