Sharks coach forgives his team for messy rugby played in Falcons match

2008-09-21 00:00

THE players were highly critical of their own performance but coach John Plumtree was far more forgiving after the Sharks laboured to a 44-19 Currie Cup win over the Falcons in Kempton Park on Saturday.

The Sharks stretched their lead at the top of the log to three points, and a home semi-final is certain, but they will have to beat the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday to remain in that lofty position and, if they advance, host the final.

The untidy mess of a game on Saturday did provide the Sharks with a jolt, and both captain Johann Muller and man of the match Ruan Pienaar said they were embarrassed by the “bad rugby we played” and faced a week of hard work and harsh words in the build-up to the Lions game.

The philosophical Plumtree, in contrast, said it is “not a game we will dwell on”. “Every now and then you have a game like this and it was difficult for the players.”

Plumtree said that the demanding conditions, a howling gale and bonehard pitch, the determination of the Falcons not to concede 90 points again (as they did against Province last week) and the fact that the Sharks players all battled “to get themselves up again” after the high- profile wins of the last few weeks, all contributed to what was a frustrating game.

The many stoppages prevented the Sharks gaining any rhythm, which was precisely what the Falcons wanted.

“We also made a number of team changes for the game, but we will be a different kettle of fish this week and against the Lions on Saturday. We’ll go back to what we know and we’ll have players coming back from a week off.”

It is just as well the Sharks have an understanding and discerning coach. He could easily react negatively to the Sharks’ many mistakes, their struggles in the lineout, the woeful defence which leaked three tries and the many lapses of concentration.

But Plumtree has been involved in many similar games, both as a player and as a coach, and he is not reading too much into the error-ridden display.

The Sharks coach said that the players will be under pressure to beat the Lions to secure a potential home final. “But the pressure is on all five top teams in the Currie Cup at this stage of the season.”

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