Sharks take more from Newlands defeat than Stormers do from last-minute victory

2011-02-07 00:00

THE Sharks took more from defeat than the Stormers did from their 17-16 victory in the Tri-Series rugby friendly played at Newlands at the weekend.

The Sharks had the match well in hand as they led 16-3 entering the final 10 minutes when head coach John Plumtree, determined to use the outing as a trial, cleared his bench in the closing stages and two late tries sealed a Stormers’ win.

Certainly Plumtree appeared happier than Stormers coach Allister Coetzee at the final whistle.

“I have to be honest and say that I was not at all happy with that performance,” said Coetzee. “Our discipline was terrible, and the most concerning thing was that we were unable to adapt to the referee [Mark Lawrence] and change our behaviour. Our captain, Andries Bekker, spoke a lot about it, but we did not get it right. We were also tested at the breakdown, and we could have done a lot better there.”

The contest was a bitter, niggly affair and the Stormers’ lack of discipline cost them three yellow cards and a host of penalties. Still, the Newlands crowd was delighted with the character their team showed in fighting back to earn the win with a lineout drive — and try — in injury time.

The Sharks, as they did in the Super 14 and again in the Currie Cup final last year, outmuscled the Cape Town team at the breakdown and their fierce, aggressive defence forced the Stormers into a string of errors. But the Sharks were also guilty of wasting scoring opportunities and should have been out of sight by the time Plumtree dipped into his reserves.

Plumtree, angry with his team’s lack of commitment against the Lions in midweek, had no complaints about his players’ attitude against the Stormers.

“The result doesn’t worry me and at least we got the intensity that I wanted in defence.

“We also tidied up our discipline and were accurate at the breakdown, and were able to turn the Stormers over quite a bit. It has been a difficult week for us with injuries, but at least we got the Tuesday game out of our system,” said Plumtree.

“I think both sides got pretty tired in the second half and there were quite a few more mistakes. Certainly in the first half there was a lot more intensity in the game.”

“We were a little unfortunate to lose, but we did mess up a couple of tries,” he added, referring to McLeod dropping the ball over the goal-line and Adi Jacobs also fluffing an opportunity to score late in the game.

“We could have put the game out of reach, but give the Stormers some credit. They hung in there and the yellow card at the end [for an infringement by replacement loose forward Daniel Adonga] cost us at the end.”

Injuries, as expected, also took their toll and the Sharks suffered in the set pieces. At least half-a-dozen of their lineouts were lost, while the withdrawal of tighthead Jannie di Plessis (‘flu) shortly before kick-off left them without front-row cover, and long periods of the game were played with non-contested scrums when Eugene van Staden and Beast Mtwaraira were undergoing running repairs.

There were also injuries to hooker Craig Burden (ankle), who was replaced by the fiercely physical Bismarck du Plessis after just 12 minutes, and lock Gerhard Mostert (facial cut). The Sharks’ tight forwards reserves are running dangerously low.

But there was certainly encouragement for the future. The alert Charl McLeod outplayed the over-aggressive Ricky Januarie at scrumhalf, while the all-round skills of new signing Meyer Bosman at inside centre, the enthusiasm and effectiveness of the back three of Lwazi Mvovo, JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane and the general physicality of the Sharks on defence were also impressive.

While the Sharks lost some of their structure and organisation with their late changes, the Stormers benefited from their second half replacements with halfbacks Dewaldt Duvenage and Elgar Watts, on for Januarie and Gary van Aswegen, bringing some slickness to the back division.

Scorers

Stormers 17 – Tries: Elgar Watts and Adriaan Fondse; Conversions: Lionel Cronje 2; Penalty: Gary van Aswegen.

Sharks 16 – Try: Meyer Bosman; Conversion: Patrick Lambie; Penalties: Lambie 2 and Jacques-Louis Potgieter

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