Sharks power to Currie Cup glory
October 30, 2010
Charl McLeod scored the Sharks' opener
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The Natal Sharks reclaimed the Currie Cup after defeating Western Province 30-10 at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
Inspired by a colossal effort from their forward pack and a virtuoso performance by young fly-half Patrick Lambie, the Sharks were never in danger of failing to wrest back the title they last won in 2008.
Lambie scored 25 of his side's points thanks to a brace of tries, three penalties and two conversions while scrum-half Charl McLeod set them on their way with a well-taken five points. Province scored a try through skipper Schalk Burger just before the break but were outgunned for the second time this season in a major final after the Stormers fell short in May's Super 14 finale.
Province came out swinging following the opening whistle, their aggressive defence winning an early penalty for Willem De Waal. Lambie responded immediately when Bryan Habana was pinged for a ruck infringement and the Sharks hit the front later thanks to a brilliant piece of vision from McLeod.
The scrum-half exploited turnover ball with a well-weighted kick into open space in the Province 22 and winger Lwazi Mvovo ate up the ground in pursuit, beating Deon Fourie to the ball before offloading to the supporting McLeod to round off the try.
De Waal missed a penalty attempt moments later and the Province defence was left in tatters by Lambie as the Springbok hopeful embarrassed several senior campaigners on his way to the try-line. He shrugged off two would-be tackles before handing off Burger to go over under the posts.
He converted his own try and soon added a penalty to open up a 20-3 lead after only 17 minutes. De Waal missed a second shot before aggressive work from the Du Plessis brothers, Bismarck and Jannie, won a further breakdown penalty for Lambie to dispatch.
Province finally rallied as half-time approached and it was their pack that hauled them into contention with a textbook maul. Burger emerged from the mass of bodies to claim the try, which was converted by De Waal for a score of 23-10 at the break.
Province improved hugely following the restart and dominated early possession without finding any holes in some superb Sharks defence. The visitors' lineout also began to wobble though, relieving the pressure on several telling occasions.
Their lack of accuracy around the field was made more apparent by the number of shots at goal turned down by Burger in favour of a punt to touch, with five penalties sent to the stands with no reward rather than handed to De Waal.
A stunning offload from Lambie almost sealed the cup for the Sharks on 65 minutes but his sleight of hand out of two tackles eluded a flying Ryan Kankowski, who had a clear run to the line. Province then did their best to gift the result to the Sharks with a suicidal piece of play inside their in-goal area, which was rescued only by an outstretched Habana hand.
Lambie missed a late shot at goal but it was of no consequence as he had seven points up his sleeve in the dying seconds. Loose play by Western Province close to their line gifted the playmaker possession and he powered through two tackles to underline the victory and his growing reputation.
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