GRANT BALL reports on the Sharks’ 48-19 mauling of the Lions in Durban.
Pat Lambie played his first match for the senior side at flyhalf, and was up against fellow 19-year-old pivot Elton Jantjes. The pair traded penalties early on, but Lambie had most of the opportunities to show his credentials as his side had all the ball in the opening half. He directed play well and varied his game, and also wasn’t afraid to have a go at attacking the line himself – as shown when he ghosted over when he threw a dummy to flummox the defence.
The big difference between the pair was that Jantjes made a few unforced errors, but on the whole they were impressive.
That 8-3 lead after Lambie’s try was negated when Stefan Terblanche opted for a poor grubber. The ball found its way straight to Deon van Rensburg, who ran 50m to score to hand the Lions a 10-8 lead after they had little ball.
The Sharks led 18-16 at the break after the kickers traded penalties and Jacques Botes lunged over, but a two-point lead would have left John Plumtree seething. For all their dominance in possession, the Sharks couldn’t put the Lions away – who have a new-found resolve in the defence and some structure on attack under John Mitchell.
Jantjes kept his side in the contest with his unerring kicking at posts, but another mistake from the pivot – this time an intercept to Lwazi Mvovo – extended the Sharks’ lead. After 48 minutes the Sharks held a comfortable 28-19 lead.
In the end that was the difference between the sides as the Sharks were able to retain possession for long periods, while the Lions couldn’t do the same with similar confidence. After having so little ball in the first half, the Lions were desperate to retain possession and they tried to run from deep. But as the match dragged on the Lions lost their resolve and structure and it cost them again – this time another intercept from Jano Vermaak found its way to Craig Burden, who sprinted over from 30m for the bonus point try.
The hooker was replaced after 58 minutes when Bismarck du Plessis made his return to rugby after three months out with a neck injury. Du Plessis had a quiet run-out, gave away two penalties due to over-eagerness, and conceded a tighthead, but this was more about getting time on the park again.
Mvovo finished off his brace with another explosive run, while Lambie kicked his way to a personal haul of 28 points.