Plumtree not taking anything for granted against confident Pumas

2010-09-10 00:00

THE Sharks are banking on pace overcoming brawn when they take on the Pumas in their Currie Cup match in Witbank tonight.

The Currie Cup leaders have lost a couple of their hefty forwards in Beast Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis, but coach John Plumtree is confident that the high-tempo approach of the Sharks, if they are precise in their execution, will get the job done.

The Sharks have every reason to be wary of the Pumas. Last Saturday night the Sharks’ seven-match unbeaten run came to an end at Loftus when they started with a bang against the Blue Bulls, but lost their way in the second half to lose 40-34.

The confident Pumas, in contrast, beat the Bulls 22-21 a fortnight ago and they gave the Sharks the runaround in Durban before losing by 10 points (27-17) earlier in the competition.

Plumtree is not taking anything for granted.

“The Pumas are certainly good enough to capitalise on any opportunity or turnover. Elgar Watts [the Pumas flyhalf] is enjoying a run of good form and he’s the conductor. Their pack is tough, competitive and they have a big front row.”

The Sharks coach said it’s important to start well.

“If you give them belief, they’ll cash in on it. We have to make sure we go up there and the tempo is high and we maintain our concentration. Last time against the Pumas we turned over the ball 25 times and that was a frustrating evening for us. We need to make sure we’re more clinical.”

Plumtree said he wants the game played as quickly as possible in an attempt to stretch, and keep stretching, the Pumas’ defence.

“It’s up to the referee to make sure that the game isn’t slowed down at the breakdown and with stoppages for injuries.

“That’s what they will want to do. They don’t want a fast game, but we’ve got to make sure the tempo stays high.”

The Sharks have an eight-point cushion at the top of the log in spite of their loss at Loftus, while three teams — Western Province, Free State and the Blue Bulls — are locked together in second place

Plumtree said that “crunch time” in the competition is rapidly approaching “with every log point valuable”.

He said that travelling on the day of the game will add to the mental challenge.

“The pressure is on now and we have to perform after losing last weekend. You don’t want to drop a couple in a row in this competition.”

The Sharks will miss lively breakaway Keegan Daniel, arguably their most influential player in this year’s Currie Cup, but the flow of the game will be dictated by the success of their tight forwards and the quality of the possession they can take off the burly home pack in the set pieces.

If they hold their own in that area, then they have the mobility, the attacking skill and the energy to overcome a determined Pumas outfit.

TEAMS:

Sharks:

15. Stefan Terblanche (captain), 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Andries Strauss, 12. Riaan Swanepoel, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Alistair Hargreaves, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Eugene van Staden, 2. Craig Burden, 1. Patric Cilliers.

Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Michael Rhodes, 19. Skholiwe Ndlovu, 20. Rory Kockott, 21. Andre Pretorius, 22. Louis Ludik/Luzuko Vulindlu.

Pumas:

15. Johan Jackson, 14. Braam Pretorius, 13. Tiaan Marx, 12. Ashwin Scott, 11. Allister Kettledas, 10. Elgar Watts, 9. Tian Carel Meyer, 8. Christo le Roux, 7. Torsten van Jaarsveld, 6. Corné Steenkamp, 5. Marius Coetzer, 4. Andries Kruger, 3. Ashley Buys, 2. Hannes Franklin (captain), 1. Ronnie Uys.

Replacements: 16. De-Jay Terblanche, 17. Dawie Steyn, 18. Willem Jacob Serfontein, 19. Jaco Bouwer, 20. Ricardo Croy, 21. Siviwe Wilmot Magaba, 22. Martin Sithole

Referee: Lourens van der Merwe.

Kick-off: 7.10 pm tonight (SS1).

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