Lambie returns to control Sharks’ backline


Cronje was deemed surplus to requirements at the end of 2015 while the 22-year-old Ungerer, the SA Under-20 flyhalf in 2013, has had to bide his time in the stands as third-choice scrumhalf behind Cobus Reinach and Michael Claassens.

Ungerer is now back in the match 23 because of the season-ending knee injury to Reinach, who suffered a crippling cruciate ligament injury on tour in New Zealand.

The Sharks are indeed well stocked at scrumhalf where the veteran Claassens has shown his class and Ungerer showed last season what a great talent he is, with some excellent solo tries.

And at flyhalf the Sharks are suddenly enriched because of the emergence of Garth April. He was given an opportunity against the Highlanders after the steady but perhaps pedestrian Joe Pietersen had played the whole season in place of injured Patrick Lambie.

April has taken his chance and has been invigorating on attack in the last three games that he has started.

And now Lambie is back in action after eight weeks of rehabilitation to a shoulder injury sustained in the pre-season tour of France.

When Lambie came on in the second half of the Sharks’ excellent performance against the Hurricanes, he slotted in smoothly. He did not look like he had been away and he is sure to start this week against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

As good as Lambie is, it seems a pity to halt the escalating form of April. It is just a pity that he was not given his chance much earlier in the Sharks campaign because since he has been in the No 10 jersey, the long lamented unbalance between defence and attack has been redressed.

It is worth nothing that should misfortune befall fullback Willie le Roux, or should he need a break at some stage, April is equally at home at fullback.

But let us not discount the ability of Lambie to play the same attacking game and to galvanise the backline into the attacking form that was too much for the Hurricanes.

Lambie has played 50 Test matches for South Africa and is just 25. He is a rare talent and he will relish the competition that April is providing.

“Garth has been outstanding. He has had some strong performances and you can see how his confidence is growing,” said Lambie. “He has a bright future.”

Lambie said his reintroduction to rugby in the second half against the Hurricanes felt just about as good as his debut for the Sharks six years ago.

“I loved being back in the middle and being part of such a strong performance by the team, which made it much easier to slot in,” he said. “I felt that a lot of what we have been aspiring to and working so hard to get right came together.

“One of the focus points over the last few weeks has been on rewarding ourselves for our good defence by punishing the opposition when we force them into turnovers, he added. âWe have been creating turnovers but not capitalising on them. You want to absorb pressure and force the opposition into a mistake, and make them pay. We got that right against the Hurricanes.”

Lambie said that cashing in on turnovers was about keeping calm, finding the space and exploiting it accurately, and not forcing passes that could lead to lost possession.

Lambie also said that his comeback was made all the easier because of a smooth rehabilitation over the last two months. – The Star

Original source: Lambie returns to control Sharks’ backline