Clash with champs Queensland: ‘We’ve got to be smart’ — Plum

2012-03-14 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree said yesterday his players would have to improve in every area if they are to contain the Super Rugby champions Queensland Reds in Saturday evening’s big clash at King’s Park.

The Reds are at the top of the Super Rugby log after scrambling to three untidy wins this year while the Sharks are mid-table after one win and two narrow losses.

Plumtree said the Sharks had made some improvement in certain aspects of their game in their 32-20 win over the Lions at the weekend, “but there are still areas where we have to tidy up”.

He said that the Reds had the talent and skill to threaten from everywhere on the field.

“They will present something different on the weekend and we need to be able to cope with that.

“They have plenty of speed out wide and if they get fast ball, and we’re numbers down, they will hurt us.”

The Sharks coach said that his team would be challenged defensively.

“We’ve got to be really smart this weekend and we’ve got to really take it to them physically. We have to make sure that we spend time with ball in hand and put them under pressure. It will need to be a good performance in all areas of our game,” he said.

Plumtree said that the focus of the Sharks was on improving their own game and he was looking for a more complete performance from players.

“At times against the Lions we did go to sleep and let them get back into the game and you can’t allow that against a champion team like the Reds.”

Plumtree said he hoped that flank Jean Deysel and scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann would see action for the Sharks XV against Western Province in the Vodacom Cup game on Saturday.

“We had a couple of worries at the start of the week with Keegan Daniel [ankle], Bismarck du Plessis [knee] and Ross Skeate [hip].

“But there’s nothing serious and they should make the weekend.”

Plumtree is expecting the Sharks to improve now they have a win to boost their confidence.

“When you’re two-zip down in a tournament like this, you feel it, so we’re pleased that we beat the Lions after losing the Currie Cup final. Now we can look forward.”

The Sharks leave on Sunday for Australia and Plumtree said it was important the players did not lose their focus.

“We’ve spoken about the danger. If they worry about what happens on Sunday, they could forget to play on Saturday. It’s always much better boarding a plane overseas with a win under the belt.”

Plumtree said that the number of penalties being conceded by the Sharks at the breakdown remained a concern.

“We keep talking about it and it keeps getting worse, so we’re going to stop talking about it and just get on and get it right.

“It’s a bit like having a good marriage,” Plumtree added with a smile.

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm and Jonathan Kaplan will be the referee.

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