Durban - Coach John Plumtree sang the praises of Patrick Lambie after he played a key role in helping the Sharks finish top of the Currie Cup log with a crushing win over Griquas in Durban on Friday night.
Playing at flyhalf, Lambie kicked 17 points and was named man-of-the-match following the 42-3 victory at Kings Park, just days after returning from a frustrating spell with the Springboks.
The 21-year-old was given just 54 minutes in six games under national coach Heyneke Meyer , but returned by playing a full 80 with his club, the first time he had done so since the Super Rugby final on August 4.
"I thought Pattie played well tonight," Plumtree said.
"There were one or two things that were a little bit rusty, but I thought he controlled that game beautifully.
"He got that backline going and I thought he was very composed. So it was a nice start for him."
Asked what he thought of Lambie’s bench role with the Boks, Plumtree said everyone - coaches, players, spectators - saw things differently.
"Pattie’s more determined than ever to prove a point, I guess and what better stage to do it than in a semi-final at home next week."
The Sharks dominated their opponents from Kimberley by scoring five tries in total - Cobus Reinach, Louis Ludik and Lwazi Mvovo all scored in the first half, followed by late efforts from replacements Lubabalo Mtembu and Charl McLeod. "I thought our defence was excellent, our breakdown work was really good, there was some nice fast ball for the backs," said Plumtree.
"Our scrummaging was solid and ultimately our backs were very sharp.
"In the second half I thought we played some outstanding rugby."
The win not only secured them a home semi-final, but also a final should they get there at a venue where they have lost just once during the Currie Cup over the past three seasons.
"Home ground advantage is fantastic, it’s great for our city, it’s great for our supporters," Plumtree said.
"But ultimately it doesn’t really matter if you’re playing against a side that doesn’t really care about where they play.
"I’m sure whoever we play against will come to Durban to play in a semi-final with plenty to play for, so it’s great to be hosting it, but it’s not the be all and end all."
There was one serious injury concern that emerged from the game after in-form winger Odwa Ndungane hobbled off early in the first half with a leg problem.
"We don’t know what it is yet, but we’re a little bit worried about it," Plumtree admitted.