Sharks 28 Highlanders 16
Patrick Lambie scored all the points for the victorious Sharks. Photo: Getty Images
DURBAN: Young fly-half Patrick Lambie scored all the Sharks' points as they triumphed 28-16 against the Highlanders on Saturday in the Super 15 at ABSA Stadium.
Springbok Lambie converted his try mid-way through the second half of an infringement-infested match in the Indian Ocean city after succeeding with all seven penalty attempts for a home team who led 15-9 at half-time.
The 28-point haul lifted the season tally of the 21-year-old in the southern hemisphere provincial championship to 108 -- 41 less than leader and fellow Bok Morne Steyn from the Bulls.
Steyn played fly-half and Lambie full-back for the Springboks in the 2011 rugby World Cup and they are likely to fill the same positions against visiting England during June's three-Test series.
Asked which position he preferred after his match-winning performance against the injury-plagued visitors from Dunedin, Lambie said that decision was up to the national selectors.
"While I enjoy the responsibility of playing fly-half, I would be more than happy to play full-back," he said before receiving the man of the match award in wet conditions.
Sharks eighthman and skipper Keegan Daniel praised the baby-faced pivot.
"Patrick has a great head on his shoulders and his tactical kicking was the difference between the teams," he said.
Highlanders prop and captain Jamie MacKintosh offered no excuses as his team failed to build on a dramatic victory over Central Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last weekend, when they overcame a 21-point deficit.
"The Sharks are a quality team who kicked well and defended superbly," he said.
"I really enjoyed the physicality of this match, but it is pretty disappointing to come away without any points."
MacKintosh had good reason to be disappointed as Highlanders won far more possession than the Sharks, but fly-half Mike Delany lacked the accuracy of Lambie, missing two penalty shots in quick succession during the first half.
Lambie slotted five penalties and Delany three during a first half constantly interrupted by the shrill of the whistle and referee Steve Walsh lost his patience on 32 minutes and sent Sharks flank Jacques Botes to the sin bin.
It was an unlucky half for the New Zealanders, with flank Doug Tietjens and replacement Elliot Dixon retiring injured and right wing Siale Piutau needing extensive treatment.
Highlanders edged ahead 11 minutes into the second half when replacement wing Kurt Baker went over for a soft try that Delany converted, but Lambie slotted two more penalties for a 21-16 lead before the Sharks' only try.
Highlanders left wing Hosea Gear failed to field a Daniel kick ahead and Lambie was perfectly placed to dot down and converted from almost in front of the posts.
The losers remain fifth in the combined standings with 34 points, while Sharks moved up one place to seventh, two points behind record seven-time champions Canterbury Crusaders.
SHARKS 28 (Patrick Lambie try con 7 pens) bt HIGHLANDERS 16 (Kurt Baker try Michael Delany con 3 pens) at ABSA Stadium. Referee: Steve R. Walsh.