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Mapimpi stars, Jantjies struggles as Sharks tame Lions

Stormers loose head lock Cobus Wiese (C) scores a try against Highlanders at Newlands © AFP / RODGER BOSCH

Johannesburg, South Africa, May 25 – Coastal Sharks winger Makazole Mapimpi scored an intercept try on 60 minutes to set up a 27-17 triumph over fellow South African side Golden Lions in Super Rugby Saturday.

The Springbok leapt to catch an intended pass from Lions fly-half Elton Jantjies and sprinted 90 metres to give the home side a 10-point lead at Kings Park in Durban.

Jantjies had a nightmare round 15 match as another of his passes was intercepted by Curwin Bosch earlier and the Sharks fly-half raced unopposed to touch down and open the scoring

A few minutes after Mapimpi struck, Jantjies missed a penalty that ultimately cost the Johannesburg team a losing bonus point.

The hard-earned victory snapped a three-match losing streak at home by the Sharks, who are among the most unpredictable sides in the southern hemisphere franchise championship.

“That was a really tough South African derby,” said Sharks skipper and scrum-half Louis Schreuder. “Hats off to our pack who mauled and scrummed well tonight.”

Rival captain and Lions No. 8 Kwagga Smith lamented the intercept tries, saying: “They cost us dearly. Otherwise, I thought we played really well.”

Although the Lions lacked injured skipper Warren Whiteley, they were a vastly improved team from that humiliated 42-5 by the Sharks in Johannesburg earlier this season.

In a seesaw struggle, the Sharks built a 14-point lead that was cancelled by Lions’ tries either side of half-time.

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A Bosch penalty regained the lead for the Durban outfit and then came the crucial Mapimpi try after the Lions had looked likelier to score through a 14-phase attack.

Bosch, No. 8 Daniel du Preez and Mapimpi scored a try each for the Sharks and Bosch slotted three conversions and two penalties.

Centre Lionel Mapoe and flanker Cyle Brink were try scorers for the Lions — the losing finalists in the past three editions — and Jantjies kicked two conversions and a penalty.

– Point-less tour –

Success lifted the Sharks three places to sixth in the combined standings while the Lions slipped one place to eighth.

In Cape Town, the Western Stormers outscored the Otago Highlanders by four tries to three as they won 34-22 to keep alive hopes of a top-eight finish and a play-off slot.

The victory at Newlands stadium after leading 17-3 at half-time lifted the hosts four places to ninth, level with the Lions on 30 points but behind on matches won.

Defeat completed a point-less two-match tour of South Africa for the New Zealanders and they slipped one place to 10th with just two regular season fixtures remaining.

Stormers inside centre Damian de Allende (C) takes on the Highlanders defence © AFP / RODGER BOSCH

TV analyst and former South Africa coach Nick Mallett praised both teams: “It was an enjoyable match of running rugby in which (Stormers winger) Dillyn Leyds was outstanding.”

Out-of-favour Springbok Leyds did not score, but his elusive running caused endless problems for the visitors.

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While seven tries kept the crowd entertained, the match lacked the intensity of the drawn thriller between the Stormers and the table-topping Canterbury Crusaders last weekend.

When centre Patelesio Tomkinson scored and fly-half Marty Banks converted to pull the Dunedin outfit within seven points of the Stormers after 53 minutes, a close finish seemed possible.

But the Stormers responded swiftly with Leyds setting up giant lock Cobus Wiese to score unchallenged for a 24-10 lead and the hosts were not seriously challenged thereafter.

Scrum-half Herschel Jantjies, skipper and flanker Siya Kolisi, Wiese and substitute fly-half Jean-Luc du Plessis scored a try each for the Cape Town side.

Fly-half Josh Stander kicked three conversions and a penalty and his replacement, Du Plessis, a penalty and a conversion.

Tomkinson, winger Waisake Naholo and substitute prop Siate Tokolahi scored tries for the Highlanders, Banks kicked a conversion and a penalty and substitute Dan Hollinshead a conversion.

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