Lambie making a 'huge difference'
Cape Town - It hasn't taken Patrick Lambie long to show why he is such a valuable cog in the Sharks' Super Rugby ambitions.
In his first start of the season following a lengthy shoulder injury, Lambie guided the Sharks to victory over the Jaguares in a scrappy game that required him to slot a high-pressure last minute penalty for the win.
He obliged, and then against the Kings in Durban on Saturday Lambie racked up a cool 23 points as his side cruised to a solid 53-0 win.
That haul, which included two tries, was enough to give Lambie the man-of-the-match reward and it would not have gone unnoticed by new Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.
It may have been against the lowly Kings, but Lambie's display was one of maturity and composure while he stuck to the basics and ran the show in the No 10 jersey.
The Sharks, who will only be in action again following the June international break, are right back in he playoff mix.
Gold praised his flyhalf and captain after the Kings match.
"I think we’ve got short memories. Everyone was raving about
Garth (April) when he was playing when Patrick was injured," Gold recalled.
"Obviously Pat makes a big
difference but we know that we’ve been trying to over-complicate things in the
past as well.
"When we take the simple options that are available to us then we
can look good and score the tries that we did score.
"Pat obviously did make a
huge difference to us. There is no getting away from the fact that he’s a
50-Test world class rugby player and our captain. His loss was a big blow to us
at the time and it’s wonderful to have him back."
With April having taken his chances in Lambie's absence, there are many who would like to see both players on the field together.
That would likely involve moving Lambie to No 12 - something that Gold is not overly keen on, especially given the form of his centre pairing of Paul Jordaan and Andre Esterhuizen.
But there was a period in the second half when Gold did play Lambie alongside April.
It didn't work as well as hoped, with the Sharks scoring just two tries in the second half having led 43-0 at the break.
"It’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while
for quite a few different reasons," Gold said.
"Andre has played so much rugby and we’ve
been looking for opportunities with S'bura (Sithole) and JP (Pietersen) and now Pat coming back to
make give Paul and Andre a bit of a break.
"I just think that from a fluency
point of view and an attacking point of view that could be quite a devastating
threat with Patrick, Garth and Willie (Le Roux) as three opportunities as first
"But I think we lost our way as a team tonight and it didn’t
show the opportunities that I thought it did but that’s a work in progress.
That’s an opportunity going forward."
But despite the Sharks having the flexibility and depth to provide Gold with numerous options, it is impossible to see Lambie playing anywhere else but flyhalf when the Sharks take on the Lions in a crucial fixture in Johannesburg in July 2.