Youngsters to put spark in clash

2010-08-07 00:00

THE battle between the two teenage flyhalves, the Sharks’ Pat Lambie and Elton Jantjies of the Lions, will add an intriguing touch to this evening’s Currie Cup game at King’s Park.

The two 19-year-olds were in the Baby Bok squad at this year’s IRB Junior World Cup in Argentina, with Lambie at fullback and Jantjies at flyhalf.

Jantjies had his introduction to Currie Cup last Saturday and produced a lively, confident display against the Blue Bulls at Ellis Park; Lambie has become a permanent member of this year’s Sharks’ first-choice team, playing at fullback and centre, but this evening he will make his debut at flyhalf.

Coach John Plumtree is convinced Lambie has the vision and skill to make the flyhalf position his permanent home, but he will be under pressure this evening with the aggressive Lions back-row of Warren Whiteley, Trevor Hall and Derek Minnie, along with scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, chasing him all evening.

The Sharks have grown stronger with each passing week as Springboks have returned from injury and Test duty. Their pack creaked last week against the Free Staters and Plumtree is relieved to have two Test props, Jannie du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira, back to beef up the front-row while bulky flank Willem Alberts, playing against his old team-mates, will add a physical edge to the back-row.

Plumtree knows what to expect from the Lions who are now coached by his old friend, fellow New Zealander John Mitchell.

“I have a lot of respect for Mitch and the Lions,” said Plumtree. “You can see how much they have improved and we’re expecting a big contest.

“Mitch has brought structure into the Lions game and he’s enjoying working with the big physical forwards he has up there. He wants them to play positively, just as we are looking to do, so we could see some great rugby.”

While the Sharks have most of the big-name players, and a pack which combines pace and power, the Lions are young, ambitious and enthusiastic.

Former Durban centre Waylon Murray returns to his old home ground desperate to make a point after he was released from his Sharks contract and the Lions forwards, who worried the Bulls pack last weekend, will be geed-up against a home pack crowded with Springboks.

Mitchell, delighted with the showing of his youngsters against the Bulls, has made no changes to his team.

“Our objective is obviously to win, but we are also focused on how we want to play in the future. A pattern of play is developing and we want to build on that for the Super 15.

“We also have no Test players in our squad and I want to give the guys a chance to develop into internationals.”

The Sharks have a strong blend of old and new, and they should carry too much power up front for the Lions. But, as Plumtree knows only too well, the mental state of his players is critical.

If the Sharks arrive in the mood which saw them dump the Blue Bulls last month, they will win, but if they are off the boil, as they were against the Pumas a week later, then Mitchell’s fired-up charges have the skill and energy to punish them.

TEAMS

Sharks: Louis Ludik, JP Pietersen, Stefan Terblanche (captain), Andries Strauss, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Charl McLeod, Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts, Keegan Daniel, Alistair Hargreaves, Steven Sykes, Jannie du Plessis, Craig Burden, Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Eugene van Staden, Ross Skeate, Jean Deysel, Jacques Botes, Rory Kockott, Riaan Swanepoel.

Lions: Jaco Taute, Deon van Rensburg, Waylon Murray, Doppies la Grange, Michael Killian, Elton Jantjies, Jano Vermaak, Warren Whiteley, Trevor Hall, Derek Minnie, Franco van der Merwe, George Earle, Kevin Buys, Martin Bezuidenhout, JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: Edgar Marutlulle , Ross Geldenhuys, David Bulbring, Jaco Kriel/Renaldo Bothma, Chris Jonck, Carlos Spencer, Marius Delport.

Referee: Jason Jaftha

ON TV

Today:

Pumas v Cheetahs, Puma Stadium, 3 pm – not televised

Griquas v Western Province, GWK Park, 3 pm – M-Net and SuperSport 1

Sharks v Lions, King’s Park, 5.05 pm – M-Net, M-Net HD and SuperSport 1

 

John Bishop on Pat Lambie in Talking Sport: page 50

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