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Steyn the star as Sharks sink Lions

AAP
Sunday, March 09, 2014

Update: 8:35AM Francois Steyn was the unlikely man of the match as the Sharks posted a bonus-point 37-23 Super 15 victory over the Lions in Durban Saturday.

Originally selected at inside centre, the 2007 World Cup-winning Springbok was switched to five-eighth before kick-off because Patrick Lambie felt unwell.

And Steyn revelled in the playmaker role while giving a flawless goal-kicking display to finish with 17 points from four conversions and three penalties.

Victory took the Durban outfit back to the top of the southern hemisphere inter-provincial rugby union championship with 14 points from three outings.

Sharks lead the NSW Waratahs by four points and the Chiefs by six having played one match more than their rivals.

Coached by Jake White, mastermind of the 2007 Springboks' World Cup triumph, the Sharks also have a four-point lead in the South African conference over the Bulls.

Like the Bulls a few hours earlier, Sharks left it late to score the bonus-point fourth try with flanker Marcell Coetzee getting the vital touchdown on 80 minutes.

It was a classic South African try with the Sharks using the driving maul to shove the Lions back over their line and Coetzee dotted down.

Centre Paul Jordaan, halfback Cobus Reinach and winger Odwa Ndungane were the Sharks' other try scorers before a 28,000 Kings Park crowd.

Leading Super 15 points scorer Marnitz Boshoff, who started at fullback and switched to five-eighth early in the second half, lifted his four-match haul to 70 points.

He converted tries by halfback Faf de Klerk and centre Deon van Rensburg, and slotted three penalties in a match which turned over with the Sharks 23-9 ahead.

"Francois Steyn was absolutely exceptional," said Sharks skipper and hooker Bismarck du Plessis, "and I'm very happy at getting the bonus point.

"We used our excursions into the Lions' 22 to build up points and I believe that was the deciding factor against good opponents.

"But we must keep our feet on the ground - we will have to play better to be contenders for the Super 15 title."

Lions skipper and No.8 Warren Whiteley said he was gutted not to take any points from the match a week after another point-less loss against the Bulls.

"We did not start well and were always playing catch-up, but when we got within seven points near the end I thought we would get something out of the game."

Jordaan struck on eight minutes to give Sharks a lead they never surrendered, while a brilliant solo try by sidestepping Reinach created a comfortable half-time advantage

The lead grew to 30-9 when Ndungane dived over far out, then the Lions retaliated with two converted tries to come within seven points 10 minutes from time.

But Sharks regained the initiative during the closing stages to strengthen the widely-held belief that they will be the strongest South African challengers this season. 





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