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#SuperRugby: Lions maul Sharks in dominant forward display.

The Lions beat the Sharks 26-19 in their opening Super Rugby match at the Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Emirates Lions.

JOHANNESBURG – The 2017 Super Rugby final runners-up, produced a powerful forward display to down the Sharks 26-19 in their opening Super Rugby game at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday afternoon.

The visiting Sharks started positively with some great interplay that took them deep into the Lions territory through a neat grubber from the Springbok debutant from the December outbound tour to the UK, Lukhanyo Am.

The Sharks forwards showed great aggression and control from the line-out and the debutant Robert du Preez shrugged off the would be tackle of Elton Jantjies to dot down underneath the sticks and converted to give the Sharks an early 7-0 lead inside the first 10 minutes.

The Lions forwards, lead by Jacques van Rooyen in his 50 Super Rugby game for the Johannesburg franchise won a tighthead scrum deep inside the Sharks 22m. Warren Whitely decided against taking the three points and kicked for the corner, and the backline produced a slick move to put Lionel Mapoe through for the try. Jantjies converted to go level at 7-7.

Robert du Preez snr’s men were finding the going quite tough in the set pieces, losing numerous scrums and line-outs. The Lions took the lead for the first time in the game through a beautifully constructed try. The backs and forwards combined well, before Whitely’s quick hands put Aphiwe Dyantji away down the left-hand touch line and he showed great skill to grubber to himself and collect before dotting down.

The Lions went into the break with a 14-7 lead.

The Sharks started the second half like a house on fire and showed more intensity. Scrumhalf Cameron Wright went on a snipe around the fringes before finding Mvovo who in turn found du Rob du Preez who put the young winger Sbu Nkosi away in the corner for the try to narrow the game to just 2 points. The Sharks won their first scrum penalty and Rob du Preez sent his effort wide of the posts, and the Lions made him rue his missed effort. Andries Coetzee went on a beautiful run down the middle before Mapoe got his double to stretch the Lions lead to 21-12.

Coetzee went from hero to villain as he dropped the ensuing restart and the Sharks capitalized when Makazole Mapimpi went over for the Sharks’ third and they were keeping themselves in the game. The Lions were determined to not let the Sharks in the game, they scored their fourth try through Kwagga Smith and pulled away from the Sharks.

Jantjies missed two penalty attempts late in the game, but the Lions were able to close out the game 26-19 in the end.

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