The Lions had no answer to the Sharks’ determination to keep ball in hand, their superiority at the breakdown led by Jacques Botes, who was ‘celebrating’ the last home game of his illustrious career, and the often perplexing decisions of referee Pro Legoete.
The game was often scrappy as both sides gave away plenty of possession through handling errors, and the lineouts also seldom went to plan for the team throwing in.
The Lions enjoyed a 13-11 half-time lead as wing Ruan Combrinck read a blindside move by the Sharks perfectly and raced away for a 60-metre intercept try, with Marnitz Boshoff, the number 15 on his back, converting and adding two penalties.
A bullocking run by centre Andre Esterhuizen had given the Sharks their only try, but he was yellow-carded shortly afterwards for elbowing a tackler.
But the Sharks chipped away in the second half with Zeilinga adding penalties in the 46th, 49th, 54th and 60th minutes. An electrifying try by the Lions, centre Stokkies Hanekom dotting down after superb offloads by Franco Mostert, Jacques van Rooyen, Kwagga Smith and Ross Cronje, gave them a tiny glimmer of hope, but a good looping move by the Sharks created space on the outside and another penalty for Zeilinga, who took over the kicks from flyhalf Lionel Cronje towards the end of the first half.
The Lions were also hurt badly by replacement flank Derick Minnie being sent off to the sin-bin in the 68th minute for killing the ball in the ruck, when it looked very much like a tackle situation.
Sharks – Try: Andre Esterhuizen. Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (7).
Lions – Tries: Ruan Combrinck, Stokkies Hanekom. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (2). Penalties: Boshoff (3).