It’s not often that you see a provincial side take on the Lions twice, but that’s exactly what happened with the Natal Sharks over the weekend thanks to the ongoing Covid pandemic in South Africa. The BIL were originally due to play the Bulls in Pretoria, but Covid put paid to those plans and as a contingency plan, the Sharks were summoned to play the touring side again, just days after they had copped a 54-7 hammering.
The Sharks made several changes, including that of Lionel Cronje at 10 ahead of Curwin Bosch, whose defence had been very suspect.
To their credit, they put on an improved performance and capitalised on several Lions errors, with the likes of scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse and full back Anthony Volmink all taking advantage as the two sides were tied 26-26 at the break.
However a brainfade from Hendrikse saw him red carded early in the second half by Wayne Barnes, and with that red card went any chances of the Sharks getting something from the game.
With the 14 man Sharks defence now stretched, the Lions crossed the whitewash at will, and it ended up a 71-31 score to the visitors after being 38-31 at one stage.
Gatland would however not have been entirely pleased with the performance- the errors that some of the Lions (like Elliot Daly) made in this test at Loftus would cost them against superior opponents (the Springboks for example), and a few players might have actually played themselves out of test contention with their performance here.