Sharks now a tighter unit

2011-10-24 00:00

RELIEVED coach John Plumtree says that the lessons of Saturday’s tense, fluctuating semi-final win over the Free State Cheetahs will help the Sharks when they take on the Golden Lions in this Saturday’s Currie Cup final at Ellis Park.

The Sharks fought back from a 13-0 deficit to beat the Free Staters 20-13 in the heat at King’s Park on Saturday. Two hours later the Lions, who finished top of the log, deservedly earned a home final when they overcame Western Province, and their many Springboks, 29-20 in the Johannesburg semi-final.

The Sharks, winners in 2008 and 2010, will be playing in their third final in four years while the Lions have their first at home in nine years. Plumtree said that the Sharks had played as individuals in a ragged first half.

“What happened to us could work in our favour and help us in the final. The players saw that unless they function collectively, we won’t get what we want [the title].”

Plumtree said the Sharks had been “lucky” to benefit from the Springboks’ early exit from the World Cup.

“You could see in the first half that we have a good number of individuals who haven’t been together regularly for some time. But in the second half it started coming together as we found some rhythm, and we will be better for that in the final.”

Plumtree said that he had hoped for a Western Province win at Ellis Park, which would have given King’s Park another final, “a big day that would have been good for the city, the province, the players and the supporters”.

But the Sharks will now have to travel to Ellis Park. “We will have to do what we did in 1996 when we beat Transvaal [the former Lions] in the final at Ellis Park.”

The Sharks ran up 50 points in beating the Lions in the final pool game last weekend, but Lions coach John Mitchell rested eight of his first team players on that day and Plumtree’s team will have to be at their very best to land back-to-back Currie Cup titles. Plumtree said he believs that flyhalf Frederic Michalak, who left the field after half-an-hour on Saturday, is suffering from a bruised thigh

“We hope he will be ready for the final,” he added.

The final will kick off at 5 pm on Saturday.

See page 22 for more semi-final round-up

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