Rethink strategy, Plumtree urges Boks

2010-08-09 00:00

THE Springboks have to adapt and change their approach to the game if they are to remain a power in world rugby, says New-Zealand-born coach John Plumtree.

He was speaking after the Sharks’ fluent, high tempo brand of rugby had brought them a 48-19 Currie Cup win over the Lions at King’s Park on Saturday evening.

Plumtree said he does not wish to be presumptuous in suggesting how the Boks should play their rugby, but that it is obvious the new law interpretations strongly favour the team which keeps the ball rather than kicks it away.

“The All Blacks are showing the way at the moment, the Aussies are trying get there and the Boks need to change their game if they are not to fall further behind.

“I would like to see the Boks playing ball-in-hand rugby. The way the laws are now being blown make that the only logical way to play. The Boks certainly have the talent to do it, but they need to be confident about that way of playing and be prepared to work off the ball to make it possible. They are out of Tri-Nations contention so I’m hoping we’ll see them try it in the remaining Tests.”

Plumtree said he is delighted with the way his charges had performed in beating the Lions.

“There was plenty of pace and movement and passing. I think it was exciting for everyone involved and a good spectacle.”

The Sharks, dominating territory and possession, forced the Lions to make a massive number of tackles in the first half and then took advantage in the second to turn an 18-16 lead at the break into a 29-point winning margin as the visitors tired.

“That’s the plan, the modern game,” said Plumtree, “to move the ball around, take it through 15 or16 phases.”

The Sharks, Plumtree conceded, occasionally overdid the ball-in-hand approach and there were times when they should have used the boot to clear their lines.

“But we had big runners, chaps like Willem Alberts, Beast Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis, to get the ball over the advantage line and give us the go-forward ball. And the backs enjoyed running off the forwards.”

Plumtree praised the efforts of scrumhalf Charl McLeod and centre Andries Strauss.

“Pat Lambie (in his first game at flyhalf) was also very good and played with great assurance. He has a good understanding with his forwards and his passing was accurate. Perhaps there were times when he could have kicked out of defence, but he was excited about running with the ball and so were the players around him. And that is the challenge for him. To know when to kick or pass, and that will come with experience.”

The 118-kg Alberts took the man-of-the-match award and he made a bruising impact both on attack and defence. One of his tackles was penalised simply because it was too hard.

But there were also excellent performances from in-form flank Keegan Daniel, again punching well above his weight, lock Alistair Hargreaves and scrumhalf McLeod, who kept the pressure off Lambie with his slick service and by keeping the Lions loose forwards busy around the fringes.

The bad news was the knee ligament injury to the influential Jean Deysel after four ninutes and Plumtree said he was likely to lose the big flank for six to eight weeks.

The quietly-spoken Lions coach John Mitchell said he was “very disappointed” with the Lions’ second-half showing.

“We were still in the game in the second half until we gave away those two quick intercept tries. That was the defining moment and it is because we did not show composure on the ball. We were inaccurate because we tried to do things individually instead of as a team.”

Mitchell said his young group of players had taken a step back “but they will grow as individuals and as a group as a result of this defeat.”

He said that Western Province and the Sharks were clearly the strongest teams in the Currie Cup, “but this is a very long competition and we are looking for an improvement in the second round.”

He said he had also been impressed by Lambie’s first outing as flyhalf.

“He has a great rugby head and he manipulates time and space cleverly. He certainly has the composure to play Test rugby.”

The Sharks take on the Leopards in Phokeng on Friday and they will be without Springboks JP Pietersen, Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira and Ryan Kankwoski, but Plumtree said he is happy with the back-up in the squad.

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