Plumtree: Sharks not playing well enough to win Currie Cup

2011-09-12 00:00

COACH John Plumtree says his Sharks team are not playing well enough to retain the Currie Cup title. Plumtree was typically blunt and honest in assessing the Sharks’ 33-20 win over the Pumas at King’s Park on Saturday.

“We don’t look like a team that can win back the trophy,” he said after the Sharks had trailed 7-17 after half-an-hour, but finally scored five tries for a bonus point victory.

Plumtree was expressing the view of the small 10 000 crowd when he said the contest “was pretty frustrating for us all”.

“We made far too many errors and turned over too much ball at the breakdown,” he added.

The Sharks coach was again critical of the players’ attitude.

“We looked flat and certainly lacked urgency and it showed in the players’ support of one another. I think the young players are struggling to adapt to the demands of a tough competition and they are not producing the necessary intensity week after week.

“Make no mistake it is something I’ll point out to them over the next week.”

In being critical of his own players, Plumtree said he did not wish “to disrespect the Pumas”.

“They really are a good, tough side and they will be disappointed that all season they have threatened to beat all the bigger teams, but just can’t finish it off.”

He emphasised that it was not all bad from the Sharks.

“There were passages of good rugby and we scored some excellent tries. Some of the things we have been working on in attack came through in the second half,” he said.

Hooker Craig Burden crashed through for the Sharks’ first try after a tap penalty, but there was a 14-point turnaround that set the Sharks on their heels and changed the mood of the game. The Sharks, with a two-man overlap, were steaming in to score when prop Dale Chadwick’s final pass was intercepted by Pumas flyhalf Coenie van Wyk ,who ran 80 metres to score (7-17).

Sharks flank Jean Deysel powered through a couple of tackles for a try just before half-time (14-19) and replacement lock Anton Bresler scored the third after a multi-phase build-up early in the second half (19-20).

The Sharks only took charge of the contest in the last quarter with two late tries by busy replacement flank Jacques Botes transformed a 19-20 deficit into a 13-point win. The first came after Botes picked up a poor pass from Keegan Daniel that bounced at his toes and the second after a sustained build-up.

Referee Jaco Peyper again hammered the Sharks at the breakdown, but the Currie Cup champions contributed to their own problems by playing far too much from deep in their own half where they constantly moved the ball laterally, and often inaccurately, and were cut down in midfield.

“We were better in the second half when we shortened the width of our attack and our big runners started making inroads,” said Plumtree.

But, he agreed, the Sharks will have to improve dramatically to beat the Free Staters in Bloemfontein on Saturday in what is their crunch game of the second round.

The Sharks will almost certainly be without in-form lock Ross Skeate, who left the field with a broken nose and was taken to hospital.

• A superb touchline penalty by Louis Fouche after the final hooter gained the Blue Bulls a share of the points as they drew 22-22 (halftime 9-12) with the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

The Bulls trailed 12-22 after 70 minutes, but young centre Francois Venter cut through to score for Fouche to convert before landing the last-gasp equaliser.

Free State flyhalf Johan Goosen was in sublime form for the Free Staters, landing all six of his kicks (a conversion and five penalties).

The draw leaves the Bulls down in sixth place and they will struggle to reach the play-offs while Free State are in fourth place.

Western Province conceded two early tries to the Leopards, but recovered to lead 16-14 at the break before running to a 49-21 win at Newlands.

Province ran in six tries to three and their bonus point win kept them in second to the Lions on the log, a point ahead of the Sharks.

---

Saturday’s scores and scorers (home team first):

Sharks 33: Tries: Jacques Botes (2), Craig Burden, Jean Deysel, Anton Bresler; Conversions: Frederick Michalak (4).

Pumas 20: Tries: Coenie van Wyk (2); Conversions: Van Wyk (2); Penalties: Tiaan Marx, Van Wyk.

Cheetahs 22: Try: Wilhelm Steenkamp. Conversion: Johan Goosen. Penalties: Goosen (5). Blue Bulls 22 - Try: Francois Venter. Conversion: Louis Fouché, Penalties: Fouché (5).

WP 49: Tries: Tertius Daniller, Nick Fenton-Wells, Danie Poolman, Nic Groom, Brok Harris, Siya Kolisi. Conversions: Isma-eel Dollie (3), Dewaldt Duvenhage (2). Penalties: Dollie (3).

Leopards 21: Tries: Whestley Moolman, Joubert Engelbrecht, Hoffman Maritz. Conversions: Clayton Dur and (2), Andrew van Wyk.

Played Friday: Lions 41 Griquas 25.

This weekend’s fixtures (home team first):

Friday: Leopards vs Golden Lions 7:10 pm

Saturday: Free State vs Shark, 3.00 pm

Griquas v Pumas 3.00 pm

Blue Bulls v Western Province, 5:05 pm

Currie Cup log:

P W D L BPts Pts

Lions 9 8 0 1 5 37

WP 9 6 1 2 6 32

Sharks 9 7 0 2 3 31

FS 9 4 1 4 7 25

Griquas 9 4 1 4 5 23

Bulls 9 4 1 4 2 20

Pumas 9 0 0 9 5 5

L’pards 9 1 0 8 1 5

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