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Sharks keep up Super Rugby playoff hopes

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25th May, 2019
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The Sharks have beaten the Lions 27-17 to move to second place in the South African conference and into contention for the Super Rugby finals.

Two intercept tries have proven crucial as the Sharks beat the Lions 27-17 at King’s Park in a key Super Rugby contest for both sides as they battle for post-season playoff places.

Sharks pivot Curwin Bosch scored one of the tries and added 12 more points with his boot to help the Sharks to four vital points on Saturday as they moved up to second place in the South African conference, three points more than the Lions, with both sides having three more regular-season games.

Saturday’s loss for the visitors from Johannesburg kept up a dismal record of no wins this season for the Lions against fellow South African teams.

Bosch scuffed an early opportunity to put points on the board by shanking wide a penalty but quickly made up for it with a clever intercept between a flat Lions backline, sprinting half the pitch for a runaway try.

That 17th-minute score, which he converted, was followed by a second try for the Sharks six minutes later as number eight Daniel du Preez went over at the end of a driving maul from a close-in line out.

After looking loose on defence and uninspiring in attack, the Lions suddenly burst into the game and a sweeping backline move saw a short pass from flyhalf Elton Jantjies put centre Lionel Mapoe over in the 31st minute.

They were level at 14-14 in the 50th minute after Aphiwe Dyantyi broke with pace, then Mapoe showed strength in the tackle to make more ground, almost to the try line, before flanker Cyle Brink finished off the move by crossing over.

Bosch put the Sharks back in front by three points as the Lions were penalised for hands in the ruck but when the Lions got a penalty chance just minutes later, they went for the corner rather than take the kick in an effort to take the lead for the first time.

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They went through 12 phases as they tried to batter their way over the Sharks’ line but then had the ball intercepted by left wing Makazola Mapimpi who ran the entire length of the field to put the hosts 24-14 ahead with 20 minutes to play.

The Lions then uncharacteristically elected to take a penalty to try to reduce the deficit to seven points going into the final quarter-hour of play but Jantjies kicked wide.

Mapimpi then showed his defensive qualities to make a decisive tackle on Mapoe to deny the Lions a second try.

Jantjies put over a penalty for the Lions in the 72nd minute but Bosch restored the 10-point advantage with a kick of his own four minutes from time, denying the Lions a bonus point.