DURBAN: The Sharks gained their first win of the season when they beat the Lions 32-20 in a Super Rugby clash at King's Park on Saturday.
The Sharks secured a bonus point by scoring their fourth try with the last move of the match, but had to beat back a spirited challenge by an injury-hit Lions team, who briefly had hopes of securing a share of the points when they were attacking the Sharks line shortly before the bonus-point try.
Fullback Riaan Viljoen, left-wing Lwazi Mvovo and replacements Meyer Bosman and Jacques Botes scored tries for the Sharks while fly-half Patrick Lambie landed three conversions and two penalty goals.
Lions fullback Jaco Taute and replacement forward Ruan Dreyer scored tries for the Lions, with fly-half Butch James converting both tries and kicking two penalty goals.
The Lions went into the match with a makeshift front row because of injuries, while they also missed regular fly-half and playmaker Elton Jantjies. But they competed well with a strong Sharks pack and experienced Springbok James had a sound game.
The Sharks were somewhat fortunate to lead 17-6 at half-time against a Lions team that opted for an attacking, passing game. The Sharks defence was solid and the home side capitalised on two errors by the visitors.
Viljoen kicked ahead from open play in the 30th minute and the bouncing ball eluded the Lions defenders, enabling the fullback to gather and score.
Then the Lions failed to control the ball from a line-out near their own line after the half-time whistle and the Sharks spun the ball down the backline for Mvovo to score in the corner.
Taute's try midway through the second half brought the margin back to seven points before centre JP Pietersen picked up the ball from a handling error by the Lions and raced downfield to set up a try for Bosman.
The Lions fought back again with Dreyer scoring five minutes from the end, setting up a close finish.
But the Lions were penalised while on the attack near the halfway line. Sharks captain Keegan Daniel opted for a kick to touch and Botes went over after a drive from the line-out.
SHARKS 32 (Meyer Bosman, Jacques Botes, Lwazi Mvovo, Riaan Viljoen tries Patrick Lambie 3 cons 2 pens) bt LIONS 20 (Patric Cilliers, Jaco Taute tries Butch James 2 cons 2 pens) at Kings Park. Referee: Mark Lawrence.