Final was a bridge too far — Plum

2012-08-06 00:00

THE impossible dream turned into the expected nightmare as the Sharks’ challenge lasted the first quarter before the Chiefs swept to the Super Rugby title in Hamilton on Saturday.

No one can quibble with the outcome and the 37-6 scoreline — and a 4-0 try tally — tells the story of an emphatic win. The Sharks, looking for a rugby miracle, lacked the intensity and accuracy of previous weeks and struggled in every area against the slick, smart and ruthless Chiefs.

Sharks coach John Plumtree praised the Chiefs for the quality of their rugby, but criticised referee Steve Walsh for failing to control cynical off-the-ball tactics.

“The Chiefs boasted outstanding tiers of attack, which our tired side could not contain.”

But the Sharks coach admitted he was frustrated by the cynical and “illegal” off-the-ball play that should have been blown by fellow-New Zealander Steve Walsh.

“I was a little bit frustrated with some of the off-the-ball stuff, holding defenders and some of the tactics at lineouts were illegal. They were offside all the time so we couldn’t get our drives going,” Plumtree said.

Walsh also failed to punish Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna for a head-high tackle on Sharks number eight Ryan Kankowski shortly after half-time. Tameifuna’s arm caught Kankowksi across the face, but somehow the rangy backrower avoided serious injury and the Chiefs played on with 15 men.

While Walsh and his assistants failed to respond to the incident, the match commissioner did, believing the incident was worthy of a red card and Tameifuna has been cited for a dangerous tackle.

Plumtree said it would be “naïve to say the travel didn’t take some sort of toll.”

He added that Sanzar needed to look at the system.

He emphasised that the 40 000 km of travel was not the decisive factor and that his side had been outplayed. But he acknowledged his men lacked the energy to match the fresh, superbly-drilled Chiefs.

“They were deserved winners and it was a bridge too far for us.”

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