No good dwelling on Sharks’ loss, says coach; draw a line through it and move on

2009-08-31 00:00

EVERYTHING the Sharks touched on Saturday turned to dust and coach John Plumtree had no excuses for the limp display and the 21-9 defeat which took Western Province to the top of the Currie Cup log.

The fumbling Sharks, lacking continuity and composure, were well beaten by Province for the second time in this year’s Currie Cup.

“Losing a home game is really disappointing and we have undone some of the good work we did on the road,” said Plumtree.

“Province were probably better in every area than us and we can’t argue with that. We were just not accurate enough.”

Defeat alone would have been disappointing, but there was more. Promising tighthead prop Wiehahn Herbst, who gave the much-vaunted Province scrum problems, dislocated his ankle in the last quarter and he is out for the season, leaving the Currie Cup champions critically short in the front-row.

And Plumtree’s warning that flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez would need time to find his feet proved timely and entirely accurate as the Argentinian battled to find his own game and his team-mates. Only briefly did his talent break through the cloud of mediocrity which settled on the Sharks, but what is certain is that his day will come.

The Sharks had the edge in possession for much of the afternoon, but they were unable to take the ball through the phases, their kicking game was poor and they took the wrong options.

They did lead 9-8 early in the second half when Hernandez added a neat drop to Rory Kockott’s two first-half penalties, but that was as good as it got.

“ Our set piece operated pretty well, but what we did with the ball when we had it wasn’t up to our standards,” said Plumtree, “and that was probably the most disappointing feature of our game.

“We knew they were stingy on defence, but because of the many turnovers we were unable to stress them with our attack.”

The Sharks failed to control possession at the breakdown and Plumtree said that was the result of Province pressure.

“I can’t defend the Sharks,” he added, “it was a pretty poor performance.”

Plumtree admitted that the Sharks’ new halfback pairing of Kockott and Hernandez was rusty.

“Selection was always going to be big this week because we wanted to get them both involved. But the forwards did not help by getting any good ball.”

The cleanest possession came from Steven Sykes jumping at the front of the lineout, but the organised Province coped easily with the Sharks’ sloppy attempts to attack without first creating momentum.

Province coach Alistair Coetzee said he “wasn’t surprised at all by the win. “We were confident we could do it.”

He said the Sharks had the best defensive record in the Currie Cup. “We knew we couldn’t go around so had to go through them and we upped the physicality.”

He said the Sharks’ poor decision making and poor passing came from pressure and that Province had planned to pressure Hernandez and Kockott.

And a final thought from Plumtree: “It is no good dwelling on this loss. It is one of those games that we put a line through and move on.”

Sharks supporters will be trying. Currie Cup round-up: page 18

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