Lambie's star continues to shine
Sharks teenage sensation Patrick Lambie’s star continued to shine as he contributed 28 points in his side’s 48-19 demolition of the Xerox Lions in their Absa Currie Cup match in Durban on Saturday night.
Lambie, who moved to flyhalf for the first time at this level, showed a magnificent sense of maturity and continued his excellent run of form, winning the flyhalf battle with the equally talented Elton Jantjies on an evening where the Lions were competitive throughout.
Even though the Sharks lost Ryan Kankowski before kickoff, and Jean Deysel went off after a blow to the head in the fourth minute, they lost none of the momentum. Charl Mcleod, Willem Alberts and Louis Ludik put in inspired performances for their side and if the Sharks can keep this up, they will certainly be good contenders for the title this year.
The scoreline perhaps is a bit harsh on the Lions, who were in the game and held the lead for a while in the first half, but ultimately paid the price for two bad mistakes that swung the game in the home team’s favour.
Coach John Mitchell is a firm believer of the halfback duo controlling the game but it was his halfback duo that made the crucial mistakes early in the second half to leave their teammates playing catch-up rugby.
With the score evenly poised at 21-19 just after half time, two intercept passes within four minutes of each other ended all hopes the Lions had of an upset victory.
Jantjies could be forgiven for his looped pass out wide that Lwazi Mvovo snatched out of the air at pace, but Jano Vermaak should have done better after double-stepping behind a ruck before sending a flat pass into Craig Burden’s arms for a try.
It killed off the game as a contest, and the Sharks' composure came through as they drove their advantage home, applying pressure on the Lions and grabbing the points that came from their mistakes.
But up until then it was a contest worth watching and it is evident that if Mitchell can iron out some small matters, this team has a better future ahead of it. Players such as Waylon Murray, Derrick Minnie and Jaco Taute all deserve praise for their efforts, while captain Franco van der Merwe toils endlessly for his team.
The Lions started exceptionally well on defence, stopping the Sharks four times close to their line as they defended without any ball in the opening quarter, before Lambie slipped through after a quick tap penalty.
The visitors hit back immediately as Deon van Rensburg gobbled up Stefan Terblanche’s grubber kick in midfield to outrun the defence, with Jantjies’s conversion giving the Lions the lead.
The flyhalves swopped penalties before the Sharks showed some exceptional interplay to put together 18 phases, with Keegan Daniel eventually finding the hole to send Jacques Botes -- playing in his 100th Currie Cup game -- over the line.
Another penalty by Lambie to two by Jantjies left matters evenly poised at 21-19 just after the break, before the two intercept tries literally floored the Lion challenge.
Lambie plugged two more penalties to add to the Lions frustration before Mvovo grabbed his second late in the game with a touchline canter that ended the night off on a high for the home side.
The Sharks – tries: Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo (2) , Craig Burden, Jacques Botes.
Conversions: Lambie (4). Penalties: Lambie (5).
Xerox Lions – try: Deon van Rensburg. Conversion: Elton Jantjies. Penalties: Jantjies (4).