Centre Lionel Mapoe scored a brace of tries as the Lions claimed a 26-19 victory over the Sharks in a fierce South African Super Rugby derby at Ellis Park.
The Lions, who have been runners-up in the competition for the last two seasons, added two more tries through wing Aphiwe Dyantyi and flank Kwagga Smith on Saturday.
The Sharks looked slick with the ball in hand and managed three tries themselves as flyhalf Robert du Preez, and wings Sibusiso Nkosi and Makazole Mapimpi scored.
The home side dominated the scrums and that ultimately proved the difference in an entertaining contest between South Africa's two most likely challengers in Super Rugby this season.
"I'm happy with the result, but not so much our performance," Lions captain Warren Whiteley said at the post-match presentation. "We lost a lot of ball in contact and made it difficult for ourselves. We just couldn't finish.
"We know we need to up our performance if we are to get to the business end of this competition."
The Sharks led through an early try from Du Preez, but after that setback the Lions began to take control of the game and Mapoe ran an excellent line to scythe through the Sharks defence to score.
Even better was to follow when Dyantyi found space out wide, and his kick and chase was perfectly finished.
The Lions were completely dominant in the scrum, with the Sharks unable to win any of their first four set-pieces, starving them of ball with which to go forward as they trailed 14-7 at the break.
The Sharks scored next through Nkosi, but a thrilling break from Lions fullback Andries Coetzee set up the third try for the home side in a move that was finished by Mapoe.
Coetzee turned villain from the kick-off, though, when he knocked the ball on to gift the Sharks a scrum which, now boosted in the front row by experienced Bok Tendai Mtawarira, they won, and Mapimpi crossed for an easy debut try.
But the home side extended their lead to seven points when Smith barged his way over the line from close range and despite the Sharks spending most of the remainder of the game in the Lions' 22, they could not find a score to level.
"The scrums disappointed us in the game. Holding the ball in contact was also disappointing," Sharks captain Ruan Botha said.
"You need to win your scrums and your lineouts or you can't launch, you can't attack. You can only play in the areas they give you."
Tries: Mapoe 2, Smith, Dyantyl,
Tries: Mapimpi, Nkosi, du Preez
Cons: du Preez 2
STORMERS vs JAGUARES
Winger Raymond Rhule scored a try on his debut as the Stormers secured a scrappy 28-20 victory over the Jaguares in the opening game of the Super Rugby season.
The win came in front of a modest crowd at Newlands and in a game where both sides made numerous errors with the ball in hand, at the set-piece and in the ruck.
The Stormers also scored tries through centre Damian de Allende and loose-forward Siya Kolisi, while teenage flyhalf Damian Willemse kicked three penalties and two conversions.
The Jaguares came alive in the final 20 minutes having trailed 22-6 just after halftime and earned their points through a penalty try and winger Emiliano Boffelli.
The play was at times desperately poor and showed the rustiness of the teams with timid tackling adding to their woes.
Having turned down three kickable penalties, the Stormers led when De Allende danced through the Jaguares defence from 15-yards out to score the first try.
The Argentine side were stretching the patience of referee Jaco Peyper with some cynical play and were punished when fullback Joaquin Tuculet received a yellow card for slowing the ball down at a ruck inside his own 22.
Shortly afterwards Stormers' captain Kolisi powered through four defenders to score next to the posts, but in another sign of some early season lethargy, Willemse saw his conversion from in front of the posts charged down, a rarity in the professional game.
Springboks back Rhule showed great pace and awareness when he added a third try just a minute into the second half, collecting the ball 60-yards from the Jaguares tryline and holding off one defender before skipping past a second with a dummy and sprinting into the corner.
The poor defending continued when Boffelli beat three tackles from the home side to bring the Jaguares back into the contest.
After Willemse had added a penalty, the visitors dominated possession for the next 15 minutes and were awarded a penalty-try as their shove against a seven-man Stormers pack, following a yellow card for Ramone Samuels, was illegally stopped.
They camped in the Stormers half after that, but despite the numerical advantage, could not force their way over for another try that could have seen them take the lead.
Willemse's late penalty on the hooter ensured the visitors would leave without a losing bonus-point.
Tries: Rhule, Kolisi, De Allende
Cons: Willemse 2
Pens: Willemse 3
Pens: Boffelli, Sanchez