Sharks feel full force of Lions halfbacks Sanele Nohamba and Morne van den Berg

Lions head coach Ivan Van Rooyen was gushing in his praise for Sanele Nohamba and Morne van den Berg. Picture: Marty Melville / AFP

Lions head coach Ivan Van Rooyen was gushing in his praise for Sanele Nohamba and Morne van den Berg. Picture: Marty Melville / AFP

Published Mar 4, 2024


The Lions’ Sanele Nohamba and Morne van den Berg have woven plenty of magic this season as a halfback combination but at the weekend they worked in relay to help undo the Sharks 40-10 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

Sanele Nohamba, a former Sharks player, has been used by coach Ivan van Rooyen as a flyhalf, with Van den Berg at scrumhalf, but Jordan Hendrikse was recalled to the No 10 jersey for the visit of the Durbanites, with Nohamba moving back to No 9, and Van den Berg backing him up off the bench.

Both were recently rewarded for their form with call-ups to the Springbok alignment camp.

On Saturday, the pair were up against World Cup Springbok Grant Williams but he was outshone first by Nohamba and, in the second half, by Van den Berg.

In the first 40 minutes, the red-hot Nohamba scored a sensational solo try and helped his teammates score two more. He went off relatively early as a precaution because of a groin niggle and Van den Berg promptly had a hand in the Lions scoring three more tries.

Coach Van Rooyen was gushing in his praise of the duo.

“I’ve said before, it’s simply amazing having guys of that calibre and character in the team,” he said.

“The great thing about players like Sanele and Morne is that they’re not just preoccupied with giving their all for the team, they are tough, mentally strong players who make good decisions on the field.

“These guys are always ‘all-in’, not to mention their versatility in terms of being able to cover more than one position and the ability to unlock defences and create scoring opportunities. It’s a privilege having the two of them.”

The Sharks came back into the game in 10-minute periods either side of half-time but they began to fold when captain Bongi Mbonambi was yellow-carded for pulling down a maul, capping an unhappy afternoon’s relationship with referee Aimee Barrett-Theron.

The Lions opened the taps in the last 15 minutes, running in tries by replacements Conrad van Vuuren, Erich Cronje and Hanru Sirgel. The Lions clearly had been unaffected by the 40-minute duration of half-time because of an electrical storm.

Captain Marius Louw said the long delay was a blessing in disguise.

“It helped us, in a sense,” Louw said.

“We spoke about several scenarios — what would we do in this situation and what would we do in the other one. We took stock of what we had planned and the ‘pictures’ we created. “It helped us. We felt in control.” Van Rooyen said he had left it to Louw to handle the delay.

“To be honest, we left them all to themselves for at least 20 minutes,” Van Rooyen said.

“We knew the chances of going back onto the field in the usual window were very slim. We were about to start with our normal protocol before we heard the news of the delay, where we then said to each other we’re probably going to have to sit here for a while.

“So, I told them to relax, refuel and rehydrate. After that period, we debriefed on the first half, prepared for the warm-up, and were ready to play.”

IOL Sport