Sharks second half stymies Saders

Seven penalties by Pat Lambie was the difference as the Sharks notched up only their third ever win against the Crusaders at Kings Park on Friday evening.

Sharks 21 (9) Crusaders 17 (11)

The Sharks had lost 14 out of 16 games against the Cantabrians since 1998, but history counted for nothing on Friday evening as the home team stepped up a gear in the second half to cement their position at the top of the SA Conference.

Trailing 9-11 at the end of a first half where the Crusaders played virtually all of the rugby, the Sharks improved massively in the second 40.

It was the third time this season they could not cross for a try, but still won. Lambie also scored all the points in the Sharks’ victories over the Stormers and the Kings earlier in the season.

And where Lambie had another flawless night with the boot, moving his season tally to 82 points, his opposite number, Tyler Bleyendaal missed 11 points through failed kicks.

Scrumhalf Andy Ellis scored the only try of the match, in the 18th minute, at a time when the Crusaders looked well and truly in control. But that all changed during a second half where the Sharks showed why they were runners up last year.

Of concern to both the Sharks and Bok coaching staff will be the form of incumbent Bok tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis. Given a serious working over by Wyatt Crockett, it was only when replacement prop Wiehahn Herbst came onto the field that things improved up front for the Sharks, and went a fair way to the home side gaining parity and getting themselves back into the game. Herbst is probably the strongest scrummaging tighthead in the country right now.

And with this parity, came a few bullocking runs from official man of the match Kyle Cooper, and perhaps many other people’s man of the match, Pieter-Steph du Toit. The latter is well and truly on his way to making his mark on senior rugby, and being able to play both lock and blind side flank, this will be music to Heyneke Meyer’s ears.

Sharks – Penalty goals: Pat Lambie (7).

Crusaders – Try: Andy Ellis. Penalty goals: Tyler Bleyendaal (4).