Sharks end losing run by routing disappointing Lions

Sharks 27 Lions 3
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The Independent Online

The Sharks snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Lions in a disappointing all-South African Super 15 encounter at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

The Sharks, coming off consecutive defeats by the Chiefs, Crusaders and Stormers, were full value for their victory as they ran in four unanswered tries against the Lions, who have now lost seven of their eight matches this season.

"Last week was our fourth game in four different countries and I think the travel caught up with us," Sharks captain John Smit said. "You really need to win your home games and we owed our fans this victory after losing to the Stormers last week."

Neither team could gain ascendency in the first quarter as a plethora of handling errors and an inability to hold on to the ball resulted in a disjointed contest.

The teams gave up 12 turnovers and eight handling errors in the first half but the Sharks, who adopted a high-tempo ball-in-hand approach, eventually found their rhythm to take control.

The Lions suffered a setback when full-back James Kamana was carried off the field with a broken ankle after half an hour. The Lions opened the scoring with an penalty from fly-half Elton Jantjies but the visitors were then forced to defend and the home side struck in the 15th minute when fluent passing sent full-back Louis Ludik over in the corner for a try.

The Sharks struck again before halftime when a turnover enabled flying wing JP Pietersen to break out from his own half and the ball found its way to flanker Willem Alberts, who showed a good turn of pace and impressive power to dive over the line for a converted try.

With the half-time siren having sounded, the Sharks nabbed their third try when fly-half Jacques-Louis Potgieter put in a pinpoint crossfield kick which Pietersen gathered and dived over to give the Sharks a 17-3 lead at the interval.

The hosts scored the only points of the second half thanks to a penalty from Potgieter and the bonus-point try in the dying seconds after a tap penalty from scrum-half Charl McLeod.

"We made silly mistakes and our execution was poor. As individuals we need to look at ourselves and we need to make improvements," Lions captain Doppies Le Grange said.

Meanwhile, Queensland Reds fly-half Quade Cooper kicked 14 points and centre Mike Harris scored a late try in a 19-6 win which ended the Stormers' unbeaten Super run.

It was the visitors' sixth win from seven matches and takes them to the top of the Australian conference in the southern hemisphere provincial competition expanded to 15 teams this year. However, the match never lived up to its billing as a free-flowing encounter between two of the competition's best back divisions.