‘Sharks needed this win,’ says Plumtree

2013-03-25 00:00

THE Sharks went to the top of the South African conference with their crushing 64-7 Super Rugby win over the Rebels at King’s Park and coach John Plumtree said the lop-sided win was massive for a variety of reasons.

Certainly the players, their coaching staff and the supporters needed a major boost after the Sharks’ numbing defeat by the Brumbies a week earlier.

This time, ready and waiting, there were no mistakes and the intensity of their rugby, and the pressure they exerted, painfully exposed the limitations of a fragile Rebels outfit.

The Sharks, with 17 log points, head a tightly-contested South African conference followed by the Stormers (14), Bulls (14) and Cheetahs (13).

“We needed this and it was important for many different reasons,” said Plumtree. “We now have the bye and we should get some players back next week which will make us even stronger.

“We haven’t hit our straps yet, but we showed what we’re capable of in this match.”

The Sharks’ emphatic display underlined the importance of mental preparation, he said.

“It was about intensity, building pressure and then being accurate in finishing off opportunities.”

A relaxed Plumtree said it was rare in Super Rugby that “you have the luxury of the contest being over way before the final whistle.

“We’ve been working hard on our lineout drive and you could see the players’ attitude there”.

He said that he had been positive before the game.

“I knew we’d be determined, but, of course, I didn’t imagine that scoreline. People might say that the Rebels are not a great side, but they haven’t been put away like that for a long time, perhaps in their history.”

While the Sharks coach said he had been confident that the new players would perform, he was delighted “they paid me back for their selection”.

He singled out the 20-year-old Pieter-Steph du Toit for special mention.

“He has a lot of talent. Defensively he was really good, he loves running with the ball, he’s a big presence on the field and it will be good to watch him grow in this competition.”

Hooker Kyle Cooper, scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and prop Wiehahn Herbst were also prominent in the win.

The contest did deteriorate in the final scrappy quarter when a steady stream of Sharks players left the field for treatment. The result was that Cooper shifted to the flank and Keegan Daniel, who enjoyed an excellent opening hour, went out to the wing.

“It got a bit messy at the end with the changes and that was disappointing,” the coach said.

Rebels coach Damien Hill’s response to the crushing loss echoed sentiments expressed by Plumtree the week before when the Sharks folded against the Brumbies.

“We just didn’t show up,” said Hill. “This was embarrassing, the worst defeat of my coaching career and the worst defeat in Rebels’ history.

“You have to be prepared to shed blood when you play the Sharks at King’s Park. We did not and I wonder about the pride of the players and whether they really want to be here.

“This is the lowest point both in my coaching career and in the history of Rebels’ rugby,” Hill added.

Plumtree said that flank Marcell Coetzee had suffered “a mild concussion” and there was concern about wing Lwazi Mvovo (hand injury). Injured flank Jean Deysel and centre Tim Whitehead could be available for selection next week.

The Sharks will pick up another four points with their bye over the Easter weekend and they then face the seven-time champion Crusaders at King’s Park on April 5 (Friday) at 7.10 pm.

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