Cape Town - Western Province backline coach Robbie Fleck says that he had flashbacks to the 2010 Currie Cup final when he watched Patrick Lambie’s match-winning performance in their semi-final match against the Free State Cheetahs at Kings Park this past weekend.
The supersport.com website reports that Lambie, who scored the try that got the Sharks going after a slow start against the Cheetahs and then controlled the game after that en route to a man of the match award, signaled his return to top form after a frustrating season which has been mostly spent warming the Springbok bench.
The Michaelhouse old boy grew more assured the longer the game endured, and Fleck made no bones about the fact that it made him nervous.
"There can be no doubt that the Sharks are much better off in the kicking department when Lambie is present, and he also has great awareness of when to take the ball to the line," said Fleck at the start fo the build-up to Saturday’s Currie Cup final between the two coastal teams at Newlands.
"When I watched his performance against the Cheetahs I did have flashbacks of what he did to us in the 2010 final.
"He destroyed us in that game and when he took that little gap to score the Sharks’ try it reminded me so much of what he did to us three years ago."
Lambie missed most of the Currie Cup because of international commitments, but WP did get a taste of what he could do in the second half of the recent league match between the two teams in Durban.
Fleck reckons it is an irony that because of his two missed penalty kicks in the second half, Lambie was blamed for the Sharks’ loss when really it was the flyhalf who put the Sharks in with a chance of victory.
"Patrick’s kicking out of hand when he came on at halftime in Durban was outstanding and I thought it turned the match in the Sharks’ favour in the second half.
"He succeeded in turning us with his kicks and put our back three under massive pressure.
"He really turned the game around in that period and it was only because of his missed kicks at goal that we managed to escape with the win.
"He’s definitely the key to the Sharks’ chance of winning the final.
"He’s been back in their systems now for two weeks and you could see in the Cheetahs game how well he has settled in now.
"He tore us apart in 2010 and we know he has the ability to do that again so we are going to have to go out to negate his influence and his kicking game.
"He is more than just a good field kicker and we regard him as one of the most balanced flyhalves in the country at the moment."
Of course WP do know how to go about negating the Lambie influence, and they managed to do it effectively last year by outplaying the Sharks at forward and by their defence just not giving the Sharks any room to move.
Fleck reckons the first step is to stop the Sharks’ loose trio from igniting their attacking plays.
"Keegan Daniel is instrumental in starting their attacks, as are their two scrumhalves, Charl McLeod and Cobus Reinach, but it is Lambie who provides the link and he is really good at it.
"The challenge for us will be to be strong up front and to prevent their big runners from coming at us from around the corner.
"We do back our defence and we will work incredibly hard on stopping them."