The Sharks looked like they had an easy victory all but sealed up when Patrick Lambie slotted a long range penalty to take a 21 point lead in the 50th minute of the match. A resurgent and never say die Cheetahs team had something to say about that though and scored 17 unanswered points in the next 20 minutes to make it a 4 point game with 10 minutes to go. Another successful Lambie penalty this time from right in front, to keep his 100% record of the night in tact, stretched the lead back to 7 points and was just enough for the Sharks to clinch another nail biter by 29-22 against the Cheetahs side.
Although the game started with the Sharks looking like they would control the game it was the Cheetahs who went over for the first try of the match only 9 minutes in. A 10m line-out was setup into a strong maul for which the Sharks defence had no answer and Lappies Labeschegne went over for his first try of the match. Goosen was not on target with the conversion and also missed a couple of his penalties on the night, quite out of character for the young flyhalf, who was kept under pressure the whole night by the Sharks and looked a little rattled in his first game back after a long injury.
His opposite number, now Springbok incumbent Patrick Lambie, on the other hand looked calm and composed all night, controlling the game with good tactical kicking and pin point accurate goal kicking. He kept the Sharks in the game with 3 penalties, before Lwazi Mvovo went over for an opportunistic try from a scrappy Sharks line-out 20m out. The Sharks went into the half 11 point leaders and looked well on top and in control.
The second half started with another missed conversion from Goosen and shortly after that the Sharks went over for a pushover try of their own, Marcell Coetzee going over and Lambie converting from the touch line. With an 18 point lead the Sharks got a penalty from 47m out and with the benefit of hind sight one might say that going for the try and putting the pressure on the Cheetahs might have been a better option than going for the three, since from here the Sharks looked like thay tried to defend a 21 point lead and almost didn’t make it.
The game got very loose, probably because the Cheetahs was throwing everything they got into getting over the line and back into the game, but the Sharks will not be pleased that they fell into the trap of playing with the Cheetahs, instead of slowing it down, setting up the phases and pushing for territory. On both occasions gaps opened up for the Cheetahs after one of too many turn-overs for the Sharks and Philip van der Walt and Johann Sadie scored for the Cheetahs to get their team back into the game.
With 10 minutes or so to go the Cheetahs was putting more pressure on the Sharks’ line and Captain Adriaan Struass had an important decision of his own to make with another penalty coming their way. Goosen slotted it, after a long deliberation by his captain, but the time it took and with the Sharks gaining the possession after the kick-off and going on to score a penalty of their own, they probably left it just too late to steal this one from the Sharks. The Sharks on the other hand would be relieved that a second half slump did not cost them an important win and would want to and with the Stormers waiting next week would probably have to work on 80 closing out games.
The Sharks: 29 (16)
Tries: Lwazi Mvovo, Marcell Coetzee
Conversions: Pat Lambie (2)
Penalties: Pat Lambie (5)
Cheetahs: 22 (5)
Tries: Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Johann Sadie
Conversions: Johan Goosen (2)
Penalties: Johan Goosen (1)