Sharks’ victory sends Plumtree over the moon

2012-05-21 00:00

DELIGHTED coach John Plumtree yesterday described the 34-20 win over the Cheetahs as the Sharks’ most complete attacking performance of their Super Rugby campaign.

The Sharks continued their late season revival with their third successive win, running in four tries to the Cheetahs’ one for a crucial away win.

Plumtree’s team, with back-to-back bonus point wins, are now eight points behind the pacesetting Stormers and they trail the Bulls by six on the log. They face the Stormers at King’s Park in Saturday night (7.10 pm) and then meet the Lions at Ellis Park in their final away game (June 2). Their two final games, both in Durban, are against the Bulls and Cheetahs early in July following the June break for the Test series against England and their bye weekend.

“The pressure was on us to keep winning in Bloem and I’m delighted the boys played really well for sustained periods,” Plumtree said yesterday.

“I thought it was our attacking performance of the year and we’re just delighted with the win.”

He said he was pleased that the Sharks had finished off strongly in scoring four tries, “but there were a couple more that we didn’t get”.

“It all started from the breakdown. The backs were doing their job and the forwards were providing good go-forward ball.”

He said the defence had creaked once or twice in the first half when the Cheetahs scored their only try.

“But in the last 15 or 20 minutes we defended effectively under pressure. We did concede too many penalties, but there were no tries scored against us in the second half, which was pleasing.”

Plumtree said the Bulls losing to the Highlanders had helped the Sharks’ cause.

“But we can’t rely on other team’s results. We have to focus on our own stuff and what we have to do to stay in contention for the play-offs.”

Plumtree said the Sharks had few injury concerns ahead of the Stormers game.

“I’m sure Pat [Lambie] will be ready. He was close to playing against the Cheetahs [following his concussion] but then went down with ‘flu.”

Fullback Louis Ludik, who also missed the Bloemfontein trip, should be back, but Plumtree said that centre Tim Whitehead was suffering from a groin strain.

“We hope he’ll be ready later in the week. Steve Sykes [who left the field on Saturday and was replaced by Willem Alberts] is fine.”

Captain Keegan Daniel was also all smiles after the win.

“We are really happy with the victory and even more so with the bonus point. These South African derbies are always tough and we knew the Cheetahs would take the game to us. I’m proud of the way the boys handled themselves.”

The two teams produced a pulsating contest, filled with movement and ambitious attack.

Flyhalf Riaan Smit, until cramping up early in the second half, and captain Adriaan Strauss, at hooker, were prominent in a spirited Cheetahs effort.

“We gave them way too much possession, especially at the breakdowns,” coach Naka Drotske said. “Our defence was never really up to scratch.”

Strauss praised the Sharks’ showing on the night.

“It was a tough game, but we never thought we were in charge. The Sharks played very well and deserved the victory.”

Plumtree will have been encouraged by the form of the individual Sharks players.

Wing JP Pietersen, constantly involved, again had a strong game, Lwazi Mvovo continued his recent excellent form and young Paul Jordaan at outside centre looked sharp and threatening.

The man-of-the-match award went to rampaging hooker Bismarck du Plessis, while loosehead Beast Mtawarira, along with backrowers Marcell Coetzee and Daniel, made significant contributions on what was an excellent night for Sharks’ rugby.

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