Lions and Sharks set for quarterfinal showdown

Courtnall Skosan of the Lions challenged by Lukhanyo Am of the Sharks during the 2017 Super Rugby match between Sharks and Lions at the GrowthPoint Kings Park Stadium, Durban. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - The Lions defeated the Sharks 27-10 on Saturday in Durban to clinch overall top spot on the Vodacom Super Rugby table, meaning the two sides will meet each again next week in Johannesburg in one of four quarterfinal fixtures.

The Stormers were too strong for the Bulls and triumphed 41-33 in an exciting Saturday afternoon encounter at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, while the Cheetahs bowed out with a 21-20 win over the Southern Kings in their Friday night clash in Port Elizabeth.

READ: Lions finish top of Super Rugby with win over Sharks

With the final round of regular fixtures now completed, the final standings as well as the eight quarterfinalists were confirmed on Saturday evening.

The Lions, Crusaders, Stormers and Brumbies won through to the playoffs as respective conference winners, while the Hurricanes, Chiefs, Highlanders and Sharks each booked their spot in the playoffs as the four wildcard qualifiers.

In the coming weekend’s quarterfinal action, the Brumbies welcome the Hurricanes on Friday, at 11.35am (SA time), while the Saturday line-up sees the Crusaders hosting the Highlanders (9.35am), the Lions entertain the Sharks (2.30pm) and the Stormers are at home to the Chiefs (5pm).

Following the Crusaders’ 31-22 loss to the Hurricanes earlier on Saturday, the Lions had the advantage of knowing that a win in Durban in the very last fixture of regular league action would secure them outright first place on the overall table.

READ: Super Rugby quarterfinal positions are going down to the wire

They had to work hard for their 27-10 win, meaning that they are in line to host the 2017 final should they manage to win their next two matches in the knockout stage.

In the earlier Saturday fixture at Loftus, the Stormers had a narrow 22-21 lead at the break but went on to outscore their hosts by six tries to five.

Cheslin Kolbe, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Dillyn Leyds, Siya Kolisi, Damian Willemse and Seabelo Senatla all scored for the Cape team while the Pretoria side’s tries came through Jason Jenkins, Duncan Matthews, Piet van Zyl and Jesse Kriel (2).

The Cheetahs bowed out with a gritty comeback victory over the Southern Kings on Friday night in Port Elizabeth. The Bloemfontein outfit won 21-20 after trailing 12-3 at half-time. They scored their tries through Clinton Swart and Raymond Rhule, while Makazole Mapimpi, Wandile Mjekevu and Lubabalo Mtyanda crossed the line for the Kings.

African News Agency

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