Sharks exceed coach’s expectations and go top of Currie Cup log

2009-08-24 00:00

THE Sharks have exceeded coach John Plumtree’s expectations in finishing the first round of the Currie Cup with a three-point cushion at the top of the log.

Plumtree was reflecting on the Sharks’ emphatic 41-6 win over Griquas, the previous log-leaders, at King’s Park on Saturday. The Sharks, on 27 points, are now three clear of the chasing pack of Western Province, Griquas and the Blue Bulls (all on 24).

“If you had offered me this position at the start of the season, a lead at the top after playing without our Springboks for seven games and with four away from home, I would gladly have accepted it,” he said.

Plumtree said he is satisfied with the five tries scored by his Sharks against Griquas, but “I’m even happier that we did not concede one try”.

“The guys are enjoying playing the ball into space and our attack is growing. But there are still areas of concern.”

Right near the top of the list must be the lineouts, and the Sharks lost about eight on their own throw. Plumtree said that the gusting wind made it difficult for the hookers, but it remains a mystery why the Sharks kept calling for deep throws in those conditions.

What was particularly frustrating was that on four occasions fullback Stefan Terblanche set up attacking lineouts from penalties only to see possession promptly lost on the Griquas line as deep throws went astray.

But we should not be greedy. The young Sharks did thump the Currie Cup pacesetters and they did so comfortably as they again underlined the enormous depth in the squad.

Fullback Terblanche, named man-of the match, was sound and sensible in everything he did and his line-kicking was excellent. Plumtree described his display as “outstanding” while he also praised halves Charl McLeod and Monty Dumond, “the real surprise packets for us this season”.

The scrum, with young Wiehahn Herbst on the tighthead, battled initially, but then came through strongly and they set up a pushover try for number eight Keegan Daniel in the closing minutes. The backrow of Daniel, Jacques Botes and Jean Deysel was again highly productive and influential, and the Griqua halfbacks, Naas Olivier and Sarel Pretorius, had a torrid afternoon.

As, indeed, did the whole Griqua team.

Coach Dawie Theron said he knew after the first 25 minutes that “it was just not going to be our day”.

“When Waylon Murray intercepted that pass and scored(after 24 minutes) it knocked the stuffing out of us. We made mistakes in this match we haven’t done all season. I mean we made 24 handling errors. Maybe we came to Durban expecting too much but we were badly beaten.”

The rugby was stop-start with many stoppages and re-set scrums, while the breakdowns, as Plumtree pointed out, were messy. And if Theron saw the writing on the wall as early as the first quarter, so did the subdued 25 000 crowd and even the players. There was a sense of the inevitable about the contest and no one seemed particularly surprised when the Sharks stretched away to beat the log leaders by 35 points. It even allowed the Sharks’ mistakes — a couple of early defensive errors, poor lineout work and over ambitious counter-attacking — to go unpunished

The Sharks now face the second-placed Western Province in Durban this Saturday and Plumtree said that Argentinian flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez will be ready. And that will be hard on Monty Dumond, who had a field day on Saturday, slotting every kick he was given (two penalties and five conversions) and showing his pace to run through to score a try after a Daniel break.

 

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