Plum’s gamble pays off in high-tempo Sharks win

2010-07-19 00:00

COACH John Plumtree’s calculated gamble worked a treat as the young Sharks, taking a leaf out of the All Blacks’ book, played a high-tempo game and ran in five tries to beat the Blue Bulls 34-28 in their Currie Cup match at King’s Park on Saturday evening.

It was the Sharks’ fifth successive Currie Cup win over the current champions, but it was their positive style, the involvement of all 15 players on attack and the fluency of their backplay that delighted the 26 000 crowd and left their head coach with a broad smile.

Plumtree admitted later that he had been nervous about a positional switch, which saw 19-year-old Patrick Lambie switching from fullback to inside centre.

“I was worried about throwing him in the deep end, but it worked out well.”

Indeed it did. The young Lambie’s straight running, the accuracy and vision of his distribution, and his ability to stand up in the tackle, created chances for all those around him.

“We must remember this is one game and just a start,” Plumtree warned. “I don’t just want to blow smoke up his … um … you know, but he does have all the qualities on attack and he is precise in his defence.”

Coaches, Peter de Villiers apart, are reluctant to field players out of position, but bringing Lambie closer to the action immediately paid rich dividends and the wings, a busy JP Pietersen and the strong-running Lwazi Mvovo, flourished.

The Sharks victory in this highly entertaining contest was very much a team effort. They placed the more experienced Bulls pack under pressure at the scrum, lock Alistair Hargreaves took most of their lineout ball, and contributed in broken play, and hooker Craig Burden, Keegan Daniel and Jacques Botes ran the ball at the Bulls all evening.

The Bulls also contributed to an excellent contest, scoring three tries of their own and almost turning the game in the last quarter.

But, as Bulls coach Frans Ludeke conceded later, the Sharks “certainly deserved their win.”

“The changes they made in the backline, the combinations, worked well for them and they were dangerous, even though we defended well.

“It was a really good game with both teams playing positive rugby,” he said.

The dynamic Burden, who is also throwing with greater accuracy at the lineout, and Daniel constantly threatened the Bulls in the first half and between them had three tries disallowed by the TMO. And it was Daniel’s neat, if perhaps forward, pass which released Burden and he stepped inside the Bulls’ cover and scored the Sharks’ opening try for a 10-8 half-time lead.

The Sharks deserved more from the first half but loose, over-ambitious passing cost them possession and territory.

Mvovo ran over Bulls fullback Jaco van der Westhuyzen for the Sharks’ second try after the break and then Lambie shrugged off a couple of tackles for Botes to send Daniel over and fashion a 24-11 lead going into the final quarter.

The Bulls, helped by a string of penalties, refused to concede and they briefly threatened when strong prop Dean Greyling rumbled over for a try and a Jacques-Louis Potgieter penalty narrowed the deficit to 24-21. But two late tries, by Mvovo and a chip-and-chase effort by Daniel, inside two minutes took the Sharks 13 points clear in the closing minutes before wing Gerhard van den Heever crossed in the corner on the final hooter and Potgieter’s superb touchline conversion earned them a log point (34-28).

• Western Province whitewashed the disappointing Lions 32-0 at Newlands on Saturday afternoon, but could not gain a bonus point for tries.

• Flyhalf Elgar Watts scored 27 points as the newly promoted Pumas gained a 37-32 win over the Leopards in Witbank.

Sharks (34): Tries: Craig Burden, Lwazi Mvovo (2), Keegan Daniel (2). Conversions: Patrick Lambie (3) Penalty: Lambie. Blue Bulls 28: Tries: Jan-Gerrit van Velze, Dean Greyling, Gerhard van den Heever. Conversion: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (2). Penalties: Potgieter (3).

WP (32): Tries: Pieter Louw, Conrad Jantjes and Pieter Myburgh. Conversion: Willem de Waal (1). Penalties: De Waal (5). Lions (0)

Pumas (37): Tries: Elgar Watts (3), Alistair Kettledas (2). Conversions: Watts (3). Penalties: Watts (2). Leopards (32): Tries: Deon Schultz (2), Dumisani Matyeshana, Michael Bondesio. Conversions: Clayton du Rand (2). Penalties: Du Rand.

Currie Cup standings (after two rounds): WP 8; Sharks 7, Bulls 6; Griquas 6; Lions 5; Free State 5; Pumas 5; Leopards 2.

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