Bismarck shows he’s boss

2014-02-17 00:00

BISMARCK du Plessis grew in leaps and bounds on Saturday as the Sharks beat the Bulls in their Super Rugby opening game at King’s Park in Durban.

It was Du Plessis’s first official game as captain, and Sharks coach Jake White believed the Springbok hooker made the right calls on the night as they marched to victory against Frans Ludeke’s Bulls.

“I don’t want to say he’s a work in progress, but he’s a young captain … Bissie would have learnt a lot from that performance and he played with a good referee [Jaco Peyper], one of the best referees in the world … But I think he handled his composure well and he got the players behind him,” White told reporters after the game.

“The fact that in that last play of the game he took it upon himself to call the play and he knew exactly what he wanted them to do and we ended up scoring the last try. He’ll get a lot of confidence out of the fact that the players looked up to him and when it really counted, he called the right play,” he said.

White was pleased that the Sharks, whom he felt didn’t play to their full potential, managed to get a full complement of points in their opening Super Rugby game against the three-time-champions of the competition.

“I don’t remember the last time a big derby got you five points, and I don’t remember the last time the Bulls got beaten by four tries. So you’ve got to be pleased with that. And, the nice thing about that is that it’s the first week out, and we didn’t play as well as we could, yet we still got a bonus point,” White told reporters after the game on Saturday evening.

Due to Durban’s notorious humidity, it was difficult for both sides to get going, and White said he knew that with Louis Fouche starting at flyhalf following the departure of Morné Steyn last year, they would struggle.

On the night, a lot of things went right for the Sharks, and White acknowledged that, and said there was still a lot of rugby that would come from his side.

Ludeke, the coach of the Pretoria-based side felt that it was the Sharks’ easiest victory over them, giving away “too many soft turnovers and two easy tries”.

“We lost against ourselves, I thought. Especially in the first half, they had a great start. They didn’t work hard for that. We look at it and we made a lot of mistakes,” a crestfallen Ludeke said after the game.

“We tried to fight our way back. There were some facets in the game where I thought we did well, but in the end it wasn’t good enough,” he added.

Next week’s game against the Cheetahs will be a vital game for the Bulls, and Ludeke felt that the Cheetahs would also see it as important.

“The Cheetahs also lost, so it’ll be a vital game from two desperate sides,” he said.

For the Sharks, their next assignment this Saturday is against the Hurricanes, a team with a completely different style of play.

“If the Bulls are known as a mauling, kicking team, the Hurricanes are known as a team that likes to run from everywhere and keep the ball alive, so it’s a completely different challenge. That’s the great thing about this competition,” White said.

A plus for the Sharks was that they left the game without any injuries. Pat Lambie was the only player to receive treatment, going off into the blood bin to have a cut on his nose treated.

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