The experience of the Sharks proved to be too much for the youthful exuberance of the Lions in their United Rugby Championship (URC) clash in Durban on Friday night, with the hosts running away with a big 37-10 bonus point win.
The Sharks fielded eight current and former Springboks in their match 23, as well as a number of recent SA A players, while the Lions only had former Springbok Jaco Kriel on their bench, as well as recent SA A players Sanele Nohamba and Gianni Lombard in their match 23.
When quizzed whether he thought the experience between the two sides played a big part in how the match turned out, Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen agreed, saying that the Bok players showed their class.
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“Their experience definitely made a difference. I think the guys could feel like they played against 10 internationals tonight. To have someone of the quality of (Springbok captain) Siya (Kolisi) coming off the bench and making a massive impact was big for them,” said Van Rooyen.
“Jaden (Hendrikse) made a massive impact (off the bench), (Makazole) Mapimpi showed his class again tonight. So you could definitely say that their experience played a big part in how they controlled the momentum of the game.”
The Lions were well in the game at half-time, trailing 12-7, and had a chance to cut the deficit to just two points with the score 15-10 in the 51st minute, only for flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse to miss the penalty.
The Sharks then kicked into high gear and ran in 22 points in the final 25 minutes to power away for a strong win in the end.
“I think we managed to get the momentum and pressure back on to our side in the last 10 minutes before halftime, and our kicking game was much better in the latter part of the first half,” said Van Rooyen.
“Unfortunately there was about a 15 minute period in the second half where we really let ourselves down. I think the charge down (try) was a vital moment in the change of momentum and then with the short kick-off they managed to score again.
“In the end it looks like we lost the physical and kicking battles. But for 60 to 65 minutes, even though the scoreboard didn’t show it, I think we were right in the game. So we are obviously disappointed with that. But it was a good physical South African derby.”