Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie kicked six penalties and a drop goal to help the Sharks keep their unbeaten record with a patchy 21-12 win over the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Lambie’s 100% kicking record was all the reward the Sharks got after dominating both possession and territory but failing to score any tries for the second week in a row.
Against an obdurate Kings defence in front of a sell-out 42 000 crowd, the Sharks fell short against a side that simply wouldn’t submit, but at least they took home the four points on offer.
The Kings may not have offered much on attack, but to their credit, they certainly played their heart out on defence.
The stated statistic of only one tackle missed in 107 may not be 100% accurate, but it certainly points to a team that played its heart out and protected their try-line with everything they had.
The Sharks will be happy to take the points, although they would have targeted a four-try bonus point before the game, and will be disappointed in their own attack, as they looked to be making inroads on countless occasions, but failed to finish the chances they had.
The Kings must take a lot of credit in this, as while some of it was negative, they did at least show the rest of the competition that their opening win over the Force wasn’t just a fluke, and that they can mix it with the best if they want to.
To hold last year’s finalists to a tryless scoreline in 80 minutes when you were on the receiving end for much of the game is no mean feat indeed.
The Sharks will be kicking themselves that they didn’t take the full complement of points for the game, but opened well with Lambie slotting three penalties in the first half and a drop goal on halftime to build an innings and an early 12-3 lead.
As the Kings continued to spoil tackle and stop the Sharks, with Bandise Maku, Steven Sykes, Andries Strauss and Jacques Engelbrecht playing prominent roles, Lambie simply took the points when they came and kept on plugging away at the posts.
The closest the Sharks came to scoring was when Lwazi Mvovo was held up in the corner by Demetri Catrakilis, with the Kings flyhalf putting in an exceptional tackle to keep the winger off the ground in the in-goal area.
Catrakilis may have had fewer opportunities than Lambie, but he did slot all four of his kicks, the last bringing his side within striking distance of a win in the last 10 minutes.
But the Sharks' experience shone through, and Lambie put through his seventh kick to take the victory, even though it was a far cry from what the Sharks were aiming for.
Southern Kings – Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (4).
Sharks – Penalties: Pat Lambie (6). Drop goal: Lambie.