Dublin: Given the chance to show he’s the man to wear the Springbok No 10 jersey on his back, Sharks youngster Pat Lambie pretty much ticked all the right boxes against Ireland here on Saturday and even got a thumbs up from coach Heyneke Meyer.
The in-form 22-year-old was given a rare start ahead of Elton Jantjies and Morné Steyn, both of whom are in the tour squad, and appeared to do enough to make Meyer think long and hard about giving him another run against Scotland on Saturday.
“Pat couldn’t take control in the first half ... because of all the penalties against us. But, his goal-kicking was good, he slotted kicks at crucial times, and his distribution (was good), even though I felt we nearly played too much rugby in the first half.
“In the second half we could attack more ... overall I thought Pat had a great game at No 10.”
Lambie said he hoped to get another chance to impress Meyer at Murrayfield on Saturday. “I hope I showed the coach I can do it at this level, I’d like to get another chance this week. I just want to spend more time in the position ... so I can show the coach I can play the way he wants me to play.”
Overall, the Sharks pivot was satisfied with his outing. “The first half was frustrating .... every time we got our hands on the ball, we gave away a penalty or there was a turn-over, and as much as I wanted to take control, I couldn’t. The second half was much better, we kept the ball for longer and drove at Ireland and we created opportunities to get our hands on the ball. I thought we used it all right and got over the gain line ... but there’s still a lot to work on.”
While all eyes were on the Bok No 10 on Saturday, several other players also needed to step up and step up they did. Jaco Taute was solid in midfield alongside Jean de Villiers, while Francois Hougaard did a few good things out on the wing.
The big stars of the Bok performance, though, were the forwards, especially Adriaan Strauss, Eben Etzebeth and Francois Louw. CJ van der Linde, who took over from the unwell Beast Mtawarira hours before the game, and Heinke van der Merwe, who only joined the Boks on Wednesday as cover for the prop positions, also stood out under trying circumstances.
Van der Merwe, who plays for Leinster here in Dublin, and won a crucial late scrum penalty for the Boks, said it had been an interesting few days.
“I was called by the coach last week to tell me I must be on standby ... then I was called into the team on Wednesday. I heard on Saturday morning I would be on the bench, it was so surprising. I had no scrum training in the week, but luckily it all worked out,” he said after earning his second Bok cap.