Lambie kicks Sharks to rare win
Patrick Lambie kicked an immaculate seven from seven penalties to hand the Sharks a rare win over the Crusaders in Durban on Friday.
It is only the third time in 15 years the Sharks have beaten the Crusaders and the first time since 2007 that they came out on top against the seven-time champions.
It's hard on a game when one player counts so much. Twenty-nine players stand and watch while one man plays. If he kicks seven out of seven and the other misses 11 points' worth of kicks, you win and your home fans rejoice.
The laws say that is how the game works.
The object of the game is that two teams of fifteen or seven players each, observing fair play according to the Laws and sporting spirit, should by carrying, passing, kicking and grounding the ball, score as many points as possible, the team scoring the greater number of points being the winner of the match.
The teams did observe the sporting spirit and they did all those rugby things and the Sharks scored four more points and so won the match.
And yet there is that nagging thought: The Crusaders scored a try; the Sharks did not. But that happens.
In the first half the Crusaders scored a try and looked more likely to score some more.
In the second half the Sharks looked more likely to score a try.
The Crusaders had the better of the first half, the Sharks the better of the second half. In the second half the penalty count was the same – five each but the Sharks goaled four of them while the Crusaders missed two which were really long shots.
They were long shots because they were further from the posts than the Sharks were, beacuse the Sharks had the better of the territory.
Tries were scarce because both sides defended so well. The Sharks who looked brittle out wide in the first half, had their defence shored up in the second and their tackling was aggressive. As it was at Newlands last week, the Crusaders' defence was excellent.
The Sharks were the first to attack when Andy Ellis was careless behind a ruck and the Sharks won a turnover with Pat Lambie, Jacques Botes, Cobus Reinach and Kyle Cooper getting close. Zac Guildford was offside in the demanding defence at this stage and Lambie goaled the first of his seven. 3-0 after 2 minutes.
The Crusaders won a Sharks' line-out and Ryan Crotty broke and looked about to score till Botes caught him from behind. But Tendai Mtawarira was penalised at a tackle. 3-3 after 7 minutes when Tyler Bleyendaal goaled.
From the kick-off the Crusaders attacked again and then JP Petersen kicked down the left touchline and caught Adam Whitelock near his line forcing him to carry over for a five-metre scrum to the Sharks. Wyatt Crockett was penalised at a tackle and Lambie goaled. 6-3 after 12 minutes.
Then the Crusaders went calmly about many phases with many passes, demanding a great effort of the Sharks. During this Botes went off with a damaged wrist, replaced by Ryan Kankowski.
The Crusaders had a scrum on their right and what followed looked so simple, innocent almost, harmless. Ellis passed to Bleyendaal who skipped Crotty with a pass to Robbie Fruean. The outside centre forced his way ahead of Paul Jordaan and gave to Tom Marshall, up from fullback and with running space. Marshall gave to Adam Whitelock who arced infield and gave to Ellis on his right and the scrumhalf scored. It was all so simple, based on straight running, sympathetic passing in front of the pass's recipient and fixing the defenders. Bleyendaal missed the conversion. 8-6 to the Crusaders after 19 minutes.
At this stage Odwa Ndungane went off, pulling up while running back on defence. His place was taken by S’Bura Sithole. In just 25 minutes the Sharks had lost two senior players.
The Crusaders carried on with their composed attacks, easily effecting an overlap but somehow the defenders scrambled to keep them put.
Bleyendaal missed an easy kick at goal but goaled one when Marcel Coetzee was offside and three minutes later, on the stroke of half-time Fruean tackledLambie late and Lambie made it 11-9, a score which certainly flattered the Sharks.
Five minutes into the second half, Francois Steyn, who was largely anonymous in the match, was penalised for a high tackle and Bleyendaal made it 14-9. At this stage Guildford left the field, replaced by Israel Dagg.
The Sharks attacked down the right and Meyer Bosman was close but the attackers were penalised. Then from a line-out on their left Reinach broke clean through. He gave to Petersen who bowled an overarm pass to Franco van der Merwe who set out for the line but was tackled into touch at theleft corner by Adam Whitelock.
The Sharks attacked again and Crockett was offside and Lambie goaled. 14-12 after 54 minutes.
The Sharks attacked again and Crockett was penalised at a tackle and Lambie goaled. 15-14 after 57 minutes and it was the Sharks who were ahead, but not for long.
The Sharks overthrew a line-out which set the Crusaders attacking thoughtfully. Lambie was penalised at a tackle and Bleyendaal goaled the easy kick. 17-15 after 61 minutes and it was the Crusaders who were ahead., but not for long as the Sharks kept attacking. The Crusaders were penalised at a scrum. 18-17 after 69 minutes. Bleyendaal missed long-range kicks at 71 and 72 minutes. But when Luke Romano was penalised at a tackle, impeccable Lambie goaled. 21-17 with five minutes to play.
The Sharks came back into Crusader territory in those last five minutes and when the Crusaders were again penalised at a scrum, the time was up and the Sharks kicked the ball into the crowd.
Man of the Match: He is just 20 years of age, but Pieter-Steph du Toit was immense. He carried so well – always going straight and making ground. He tackled to well. He was the best in the Sharks' iffish line-outs and, when Franco van der Merwe went off, had the job of calling the line-outs. He is simply class.
For the Sharks:
Pens: Lambie 7
For the Crusaders:
Pens: Bleyendaal 4
Sharks: 15 Francois Steyn, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Riaan Viljoen, 22 S'bura Sithole.
Crusaders: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock (captain), 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Telusa Veainu, 22 Israel Dagg.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Reuben Rossouw (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)