Lambie out to prove a point

2012-10-15 00:00

THERE were rave weekend reviews for Pat Lambie, JP Pietersen and the Sharks from coach John Plumtree, but the Blue Bulls and Western Province were also delighted with their form after playing their way into this weekend’s Currie Cup semi-finals.

The Sharks are sitting pretty at the top of the log after the final round of league action, following their 42-3 win over Griquas on Friday night, and they will host the Blue Bulls in Saturday’s semi-final.

The Bulls, and their many Springboks, advanced to the last four with a 50-29 win over the Lions at Ellis Park as the power of their pack, and the boot of Morné Steyn (23 points), told in the final quarter. They climbed from sixth to fourth on the log to set up a crunch game against the Sharks while the champion Lions, safely in second spot, will be at home to the third-placed Western Province in the other semi-final.

Western Province, boosted by their returning Boks, overcame the Free State Cheetahs 36-15 in Cape Town. This dropped the Cheetahs to bottom of the log and they face the EP Kings in a promotion-relegation game.

The Bulls were given a nasty fright by the depleted but spirited Lions and the score was level 29-29 after an hour as Morné Steyn and Butch James matched each other kick for kick.

But a flurry of late tries, and Steyn’s boot, saw the Bulls to their win — and a date with the Sharks in Durban.

Western Province, with seven Boks back in the mix, ran in five tries in a 36-15 victory to see off the Free State challenge at Newlands. The Free Staters brought some respectability to the scoreline with two late tries, but they were well-beaten and again lost Bok prop Coenie Oosthuizen with what could have been a recurrence of his neck injury.

Sharks coach Plumtree was singing the praises of his players after they nailed down top spot on the log and he was particularly taken with Lambie and Pietersen.

“I thought Pat (Lambie) played well. There were one or two signs of rustiness, but he controlled the game beautifully and carried the ball effectively. He got the backline away beautifully and he looked very composed.”

Plumtree said that Lambie, largely shunned by Bok coach Heyneke Meyer in recent months, was determined to prove a point.

“It was a good start for him after a long break and now a semi-final and there will be no better stage than that.”

Plumtree described JP Pietersen as probably the best wing in world rugby.

“JP was outstanding. You would be hard-pressed to find a better wing in the world. He’s just so big and fast. I can’t speak highly enough about his efforts. In Bloemfontein the previous week and then in the game against Griquas, I thought he was excellent.”

Plumtree said there was concern over the ankle injury suffered by Odwa Ndungane in setting up the Sharks’ opening try against Griquas.

“We’re not sure how serious it is. Odwa has been in such great form, and that’s why I selected him (ahead of Lwazi Mvovo). But Lwazi is a more than capable replacement and we’re lucky to have three great wings.”

Plumtree praised the Sharks’ “excellent” defensive effort against Griquas on Friday when they conceded just a lone penalty.

“Our breakdown work was really good and we got some good fast ball for backs. We had to defend for long period, especially in the first half, and contain their maul which is a big weapon of theirs. Ultimately I thought the backs looked really sharp and we played some outstanding rugby in the second half,” said Plumtree.

Saturday’s scores and scorers (home team first):

Lions 29 (16) – Tries: Michael Rhodes, Anthony Volmink. Conversions: Butch James (2). Penalties: Butch James (5). Bulls 50 (22) – Tries: Bjorn Basson, Jano Vermaak, Arno Botha, Dewald Potgieter, Akona Ndungane. Conversions: Morné Steyn (4), Louis Fouche. Penalties: Morné Steyn (4). Drop goals: Morné Steyn

Western Province 36 (22) – Tries: Jean de Villiers, Andries Bekker, Deon Fourie (2), Duane Vermeulen. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (4). Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis. FS Cheetahs 15 (3) – Tries: Francois Uys, Philip Snyman. Conversions: Nico Scheepers. Penalties: Scheepers.

Friday’s result: Sharks 42 Griquas 3.

Semi-final line-up on Saturday (home team first):

Sharks vs Blue Bulls; Lions vs WP.

FINAL STANDINGS:

P W D L PD BPts Pts

Sharks 10 7 0 3 59 7 35

Lions 10 6 0 4 6 4 28

WP 10 5 0 5 46 5 25

Bulls 10 5 0 5 -11 3 23

Griquas 10 4 0 6 -63 4 20

Cheetahs 10 3 0 7 -37 6 18

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