Sharks survive Lions' rally as South African rugby resumes

It was the first competitive match in the land of the world champion Springboks since mid March when the Sharks beat the Stormers.

Sharks edged the visiting Lions 19-16 at Kings Park. Picture: Twitter @LionsRugbyCo.

DURBAN - The South African Super Rugby Unlocked competition kicked off in Durban Friday with a thriller in which the Sharks edged the visiting Lions 19-16 at Kings Park.

It was the first competitive match in the land of the world champion Springboks since mid March when the Sharks beat the Stormers in the five-nation version of Super Rugby.

The multi-national competition folded after the coronavirus wreaked havoc with world sport and New Zealand went it alone with a domestic Super Rugby, followed by Australia.

South Africa lagged behind because of far more Covid-19 deaths and after some pre-season warm-ups and a Springboks trial, the real deal returned Friday.

Sharks loose forward and man of the match Sikhumbuzo Notshe said: "We lost concentration in the second half and conceded too many silly penalties.

"We were repeatedly caught offside and failed to dominate the scrums, which is unacceptable because we take great pride in our set pieces.

"Next weekend we have a bye and I would rather play after being out of action for so long. Still, we can look forward to visiting the Bulls the following weekend."

While Kings Park was devoid of spectators due to pandemic-related restrictions, TV viewers were treated to a tense climax in which the Lions squandered several scoring chances.

Fly-half Elton Jantjies, the 30-year-old talisman of the Johannesburg side and understudy of Springbok playmaker Handre Pollard, hit the post with a kickable penalty on 77 minutes.