24 July, 2017, 12:00 am
JOHANNESBURG – Wing Ruan Combrinck slotted a 55-metre winning penalty two minutes from time as the Lions survived a massive scare to defeat the unfancied Sharks 23-21 in a dramatic Super Rugby quarter-final at Ellis Park yesterday.
The Lions, who topped the overall Super Rugby log in the regular season, were well short of their best as an error-strewn performance kept the Sharks in the contest right up until the end.
Yet with Lions trailing by a point after an off-day with the boot for Elton Jantjies, Combrinck, in his 50th Super Rugby game, landed the decisive penalty from inside his own half which edged over by barely a metre to secure the fortunate victory.
The Lions, who will now host New Zealand’s Hurricanes in their semifinal next weekend, scored tries through lock Franco Mostert, flank Jaco Kriel and centre Lionel Mapoe.
The Sharks, who were brave in defence and capitalised on the home side’s errors, responded with tries from wing Kobus van Wyk and loose forward Dan du Preez. The Lions should have won more comfortably but flyhalf Jantjies had an inexplicably poor day from the tee as his side missed out on 13 points from mostly simple kicks.
After he had missed the first of those from right in front of the posts, the Sharks hit the front when the Lions made a mess of a line-out on the halfway line, and loose-forward Jean-Luc Du Preez sent Van Wyk away to dot down in the corner.
Bosch landed an easy drop-goal as the Lions failed to put pressure on the flyhalf, before Jantjies missed another easy kick.
The Sharks’ number 10 added two more penalties before the break and the visitors held a healthy 14-3 lead at halftime.