The Lions got off to a winning start in this year's Super Rugby tournament with a 26-19 victory over the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Both sides were intent on spreading the ball wide in what was an entertaining game between two South African sides.
The Lions ran in four tries, while the Sharks crossed the whitewash on three occasions.
There were also some late replacements before the game with Marvin Orie replacing Andries Ferreira in the second row for the Lions. Keegan Daniel was a late omission with Daniel du Preez taking over the No.8 jersey in the Sharks side.
The Sharks looked the better of the two sides in the opening stages and sustained pressure in the Lions' half resulted in the men from Durban opening the scoring.
From a line-out deep inside the Lions' 22, the Sharks sent the ball wide and it was new recruit flyhalf Robert du Preez who broke through the Lions' defence to score the opening try in the eighth minute. Du Preez converted his own score.
Despite their lead, the Sharks were struggling in the scrums as the Lions' pack pummeled them up front.
It was one of those scrums which led to a penalty inside the Sharks' half. The Lions chose a line-out inside the Sharks' 22 and from there, the ball went wide with Lionel Mapoe crashing through for a try in the 17-minute, which Elton Jantjies converted for a 7-7 score.
The Lions then took the lead in the 22nd minute when the ball was sent wide to Aphiwe Dyantyi who sprinted down the touchline before sending a neat grubber past the last defender and collecting to score in the corner. Jantjies added the extras for a seven-point lead.
The Sharks finished the half the stronger of the two teams in the first half and they had an opportunity to get some points before half-time with a scrum five metres from the Lions' tryline. However, another strong shove from the home side ensured that the half ended 14-7 in their favour.
The visitors needed to be the first to score in the first half and they did just that when Sibusiso Nkosi went over in the corner in the 42nd minute after some good build-up play from his teammates. However, Robert du Preez hit the upright with his conversion.
The Sharks had the chance to take the lead in the 50th minute after they surprisingly won a scrum penalty. However, Du Preez's penalty kick went wide of the upright.
That missed proved costly as moments later the Lions increased their lead when Andries Coetzee broke through the Sharks' defence on his own 10-metre line and sprinted downfield only to be stopped in the opposition 22. The ball then went down the backline before Lionel Mapoe spotted some space and ran in for his side's third try. Jantjies converted the score and the Lions led 21-12 after 52 minutes.
The seesaw nature of the second half continued when the Sharks hit back two minutes later via a Makazole Mapimpi try. Robert du Preez added the two points and the Sharks were only two points behind with 25 minutes left on the clock.
However, the Sharks hard work was undone once again when the Lions turned on the gas again and they were rewarded when Albertus Smith rolled over for a try after some sustained pressure.
Yet another scrum penalty gave the Lions a chance to extend their lead in the 65th minute, but Jantjies did not have enough distance on his kick from about 45 metres out.
Jantjies had another opportunity to make it a 10-point lead in the 72nd minute, but this time he did not have the direction.
Those misses gave the Sharks a final opportunity to try and force a draw, but they could not make their chances count in the strike zone.
In the last play of the match, the visitors lost the ball forward on attack inside the Lions' 22.
Man of the match: Aphiwe Dyantyi was dangerous with ball in hand and he scored a brilliant try. It was an amazing Super Rugby debut for the young man.
Tries: Mapoe 2, Dyantyi, A Smith
Cons: Jantjies 3
Tries: R du Preez, Nkosi, Mapimpi
Cons: R Du Preez 2
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Francois Mostert, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobus Adriaanse, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rohan Janse Van Rensburg.
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 John-Hubert Meyer, 18 Tendai Mtawarira, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Tyler Paul, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Jacobus van Wyk.
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Marius Jonker