Sharks show how it’s done

2016-05-11 06:00

NOT ONLY did the Sharks produce easily their best performance of the season by beating the Hurricanes 32-15 at Kings Park last weekend – but demonstrated, too, that they have two of South Africa’s best flyhalves into the bargain.

There really is very little to choose between these two very fine No. 10s. They are Pat Lambie, finally back from injury and looking as good as ever – even if only in a secondary role that must have reminded the New Zealanders how much respect he deserves. The other, naturally, is Garth April, who has been holding down, with great efficiency, the Sharks flyhalf role with surprising aplomb.

We know all about Lambie and his rapid rise to the top echelon of our halfback talent – this 25-year-old established Springbok who has shown class ever since leaving Michaelhouse School in the KZN Midlands. April is a surprise package: a 23-year-old who just last year was as yet undiscovered and playing club rugby in the Eastern Cape.

What a country this is for flyhalf talent. In time these two could set up a rivalry such as that between Dawie de Villiers and the mercurial Jannie Barnard setting the South African rugby world alight with their rivalry. Then along came the Diggers darling, Gerald Bosch.

So to the Lambie and April rivalry. How will they fare in the battle for flyhalf supremacy ahead? Here’s a thought: perhaps they won’t need to. Keith Oxlee, until he established himself as “supremo” had to work hard to reach and maintain his position as the No. 1. Lambie strikes one as a member of the Oxlee kind – an allround player of of the top echelon: a master distributor, an excellent and accurate goal and touchline kicker, a defender always to be counted on. Seemingly, April has all these gifts, too – in abundance. The two might even be played together; April at centre and Lambie, a player who strikes one as the slightly more astute, at No. 10. As the saying goes, both players have it – that special ability – “in spades”. Time will tell.

Whatever the future holds for the Sharks: including both with April at centre, Andre Esterhuizen or Paul Jordaan, preferably the latter, could be retained and “benched”. Things then would certainly be looking up for the Sharks, perhaps even the Springboks.

To return to the Kings Park game; the meritorious defeat inflicted on the Hurricanes – not generally expected, it should be noted – has shifted the Sharks to eighth place on the overall log after 10 matches, directly behind the Bulls in sixth place and the Lions in seventh, both from nine matches. Until halftime it was 8-all, JP Pietersen, with his first try, bringing to scores to parity. It was no surprise when the ever-alert Pietersen picked up a second try (and Man of the Match) as the Sharks began to take control in a second half that produced some fine rugby – the Hurricanes trying desperately to play catch-up, but to no avail against a KZN side playing their best rugby of the season.

Here at home the PE Kings, doing their best to play catch-up, found themselves once more on the receiving end of 34-18 defeat at five tries to two. In an often ragged game the Kings could simply not stay the pace and after leading at halftime it was mostly downhill for the home side.

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