The Natal Sharks beat the New South Wales Waratahs 28-23 at Kings Park in 1997 thank to their fullback's reliable boot, recalls SIMON BORCHARDT.
Gavin Lawless had contributed an incredible 50 points towards the Sharks' 75-43 thrashing of the Highlanders three weeks earlier (four tries, nine conversions and four penalties) and he was at it again against the Waratahs. In front of 39,300 fans, Lawless kicked seven penalties and converted scrumhalf Kevin Putt's try.
The Tahs scored two tries, through inside centre Richard Tombs and left wing David Campese, with Matt Burke adding 13 points with the boot, but ultimately fell five points short.
The Sharks went on to end fourth on the log, with five wins from 11 matches, and lost 55-36 to the Blues in the Auckland semi-final. The Waratahs finished ninth with four wins.
Sharks – Try: Kevin Putt. Conversion: Gavin Lawless. Penalties: Lawless (7).
Waratahs – Tries: Richard Tombs, David Campese. Conversions: Matt Burke (2). Penalties: Burke (3).
Sharks – 15 Gavin Lawless, 14 Joos Joubert, 13 Jeremy Thomson, 12 Geoff Appleford, 11 Cabous van der Westhuizen, 10 Henry Honiball, 9 Kevin Putt, 8 Gary Teichmann (c), 7 Wickus van Heerden, 6 Wayne Fyvie, 5 Mark Andrews, 4 John Slade, 3 Adrian Garvey, 2 John Allan, 1 Ollie le Roux.
Subs: 16 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 17 Robert du Preez, 18 Dirkie Strydom, 19 Dieter Kriese, 20 Danie van der Walt, 21 Robbie Kempson.
Waratahs – 15 Matt Burke, 14 Alistair Murdoch, 13 Graeme Bond, 12 Richard Tombs, 11 David Campese, 10 Scott Bowen, 9 Sam Payne, 8 Fili Finau, 7 Stuart Pinkerton, 6 Michael Brial, 5 Sam Domoni, 4 Tim Gavin (c), 3 Andrew Blades, 2 Mark Bell, 1 Richard Harry.
Subs: 16 Jason Madz, 17 Chris Latham, 18 Chris Whitaker, 19 Daniel Manu, 20 Andrew Heath, 21 Phil Kearns.
Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images