Joburg Thriller – Featured Durban Blog

Joburg Thriller:

The Cell C Sharks emerged victorious in a tense, nail-biter of a Currie Cup match at Emirates Airline Park, eventually defeating the Golden Lions 30-28 on Sunday afternoon.

Perfect conditions greeted the two sides and both elected to play attacking rugby, although it was the pressure on defence and the set-piece that delivered a win against a Lions side that enjoyed the majority share of possession.

The hosts showed their willingness to play a high tempo, expansive running game with the Cell C Sharks unable to get any possession early on and having to defend for the opening five minutes before conceding the first try of the game inside five minutes.

A solid strike from the multi-talented scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba put his team on the board with a well-struck penalty soon afterwards to narrow the gap.

The game’s second try was a similarly patient build-up, this time the Cell C Sharks taking possession with numerous phases with Lwazi Mvovo doing great work on attack, beating defenders both on the outside and through the tackle before he offloaded to Jeremy Ward who squeezed through two defenders to score. Nohamba converted for a 10-7 lead.

The diminutive scrumhalf continues to grow in leaps and bounds and after delivering the perfect pass to Ward from a scrum halfway out, was on hand to take back possession from his co-captain and show a clean pair of heels to the line for the second try. Converting his own try pushed the Cell C Sharks into a 10 point lead.

The Lions have enjoyed a successful campaign in the Currie Cup, but appeared to be jittery, losing a number of lineouts and conceding a scrum penalty as well as losing possession on attack in our 22.

But that didn’t mean they didn’t go away and an umpteenth attack which earned no gain eventually resulted in a penalty in front to reduce the deficit to seven with the half hour approaching.

Let’s not forget about the debutant, young Boeta Chamberlain, thrown in the deep end and showing huge composure and a substantial boot as he delivered territory gaining clearances and with five minutes of the half remaining, converted a lovely drop-goal to push us back into a 10 point lead.

There were a few tense moments remaining but the Cell C Sharks managed to negotiate matters until the half-time break, enjoyed a well-deserved 20 point to 10 lead despite enjoying only a third of the possession.

The Lions continued their dominance of possession and territory in the second half, testing our defence for a good five minutes before finally finding the gap with an effective offload in the tackle to put the man over in the corner for an unconverted try.

Nohamba calmly slotted a 40m penalty to extend the lead to eight, but it was cancelled out shortly afterwards when the Lions had a penalty of their own and then it was all square when the Lions once again enjoyed a strong build-up and phases of continuity before finally breaking through the defence with their third try. The conversion went wide, leaving a final quarter hour where the Cell C Sharks needed more possession to break through the 23-all deadlock.

When the Lions did find themselves under pressure, they buckled. Conceding three penalty advantages in their 22 set up the impetus for our third try, Rhyno Smith on for Apelele Fassi grubbering the ball through for Ward to run on to for the simplest of scores, with Smith converting and eight minutes remaining.

With five minutes to go, the Lions were back on attack before kicking a penalty to touch and from the lineout, managed to maul the ball over the line to set up an equalising conversion kick for the bonus point try. The ball went wide and the Cell C Sharks were hanging on to a 30-28 lead.

Marnus Schoeman, his team’s breakdown specialist, went from hero to zero as he earned a penalty for his side, and then in the ensuing attack, lost the ball forward to close out a game the Lions were in the chase to win at the death.

The anticipation while the Cell C Sharks awaited the final whistle and when the referee blew it, the jubilation came.

Sanele Nohamba, for the second week in a row, was named Man of the Match.

“I’m very happy with the performance from the guys, the Lions team played really well so I’m thrilled with the result,” Nohamba said after the match. “The Lions put us under the pump, especially in the second half but we managed to hold on for the win.”

The post Joburg Thriller appeared first on Sharks Rugby.

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