Lwazi Mvovo, S'bura Sithole and Frans Steyn were outstanding for the Sharks at Ellis Park, writes MARK KEOHANE.
Sithole was a deserving Man of the Match but it was Mvovo’s magical moment that broke the heart of the Lions. And every Sharks' win this season continues to make mention of the influence of inside centre Frans Steyn, with Ellis Park again providing more evidence of his unique talents.
Sharks director of rugby Jake White moved Mvovo from wing to fullback a month ago because he felt he needed express pace from the back. It was another example of White getting the maximum out of a player and at Ellis Park Mvovo’s pace provided the only try of the match.
It was also significant that Sithole was the player who made the tackle and won the steal.
Sithole scored a hat-trick of tries against the Lions at Ellis Park in a pre-season, playing at outside centre. He previously had been played at wing.
White, in a chat I had with him at the time, said Mvovo and Sithole had strengths better suited to positions other of wing.
He felt both were very good wingers but that their skill set and natural talents could be used elsewhere. He said Sithole had the talent, if nursed, coached and managed with a plan, to be a Test player and that Mvovo’s pace could be lethal if he was given licence to counter-attack from fullback.
Mvovo, at Ellis Park, was always a running threat from fullback, especially in collecting any misdirected opposition kick and the player clearly has been given freedom of expression with ball in hand. His kicking game isn’t bad but White has picked him at fullback to run and attack and it is what he did effectively. He was good under the high ball and also showed good appreciation of when to kick.
He was moved to wing late in the game because of injury to Super Rugby centurion Odwa Ndungane but even before this he had caused the Lions defence problems with his pace from broken play.
Steyn, among those individual moments, struck with two monster 60m penalties to give the Sharks second-half momentum after the scores were tied 6-6 at half-time.
Sithole’s tackle and turnover was another such magical moment and Mvovo’s catch, run, kick, chase, gather and score to extend the lead from 15-12 to 22-12 (with Steyn’s conversion) was the most decisive of the individualistic brilliance that contributed to the Sharks winning for the sixth time in seven starts.
Steyn again played a significant part of the match at flyhalf because of injury to starting No 10 Fred Zeilinga and showcased just why so many rate him as one of the best players in the world.
White, in 2006, was the coach who picked a teenage Steyn to play for the Springboks and it is under White’s guidance that Steyn again is producing world-class contributions.
The Sharks got it right when it mattered most against the Lions, but White has all season got it right when it comes to selections.
Photo: Gallo Images