Coach and captain sound alarm bells over Sharks' inconsistency

2012-04-18 00:00

CAPTAIN Keegan Daniel and coach John Plumtree yesterday both highlighted the Sharks’ lack of consistency in the first half of this year’s Super Rugby competition.

The Sharks are lying exactly midway on the standings and have been doing everything by halves, winning four of their games and losing four. Still, they host six of their eight remaining games in Durban and they are well placed to challenge for a play-off spot.

But they face a massive challenge at King’s Park on Saturday evening when they face the log-leading, in-form and dangerous Chiefs.

The Sharks have blown hot and cold all season and Daniel and Plumtree emphasised the importance of maintaining a high level of performance in the weeks ahead.

“We’ve only strung together two good performances in a row once, so clearly we haven’t established any type of consistency,” said Plumtree.

“That fluctuating form is reflected in both our defence and attack and we haven’t been satisfied with all the areas in any one game. Either our setpiece has let down when we have defended well or vice versa.

“We’re still looking for that complete performance, one when we can go away and say we had a really good day out.”

Plumtree said that the Sharks’ tackle percentages were also down “so there’s a fair bit of work to do”.

Daniel agreed, describing the Sharks’ consistency as “really poor” with only two wins of their wins in a row.

The Sharks have now been playing for eight successive weekends and Daniel said they faced one more major test this weekend before their bye.

“We are looking no further ahead than the Chiefs,” he said. “We understand what we need to do on Saturday and our focus is on our preparations.”

The Sharks coach and captain both said that only a quality display would topple the Chiefs.

“The Chiefs are a really good side,” said Plumtree, adding that they had improved dramatically on the quality of rugby produced by previous Waikato teams.

”They are playing settled combinations right through the team and this consistency in selection has brought a real confidence to their methods.

“Their players are in really good form. In the past the Chiefs have scored lots of tries but suffered from defensive lapses. This team has conceded the least number of tries of all the teams in the competition and they are also scoring plenty of their own.

“They’re pretty confident and smart.”

Daniel said the Sharks faced their greatest defensive test of the season on Saturday against a backline that contained a number of game-breakers.

“It’s going to be a really major challenge against an in-form team” he said.

Plumtree is still hoping that Bok hooker Bismarck du Plessis, suffering from a variety of ailments, will start against the Chiefs.

“He has a groin strain, which is why we sent him home from New Zealand early. He also had a quad strain after the Brumbies game and he’s had problems with his shoulder. There’s a fair bit of wear and tear, but he’s the type of guy who will play through injury.

“We eventually had to take him out of the last two games on tour, but he ran well today and we’ll consider him for selection on Thursday.”

Plumtree said Craig Burden was playing behind one of the best hookers in the world in Bismarck du Plessis.

“But when Craig got the opportunity on tour he really grabbed it — and good on him. That what it’s all about and he certainly showed that he’s more than capable at this level,” the Sharks coach said.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 5.05 pm and the Chiefs will have New Zealand company out in the middle with Garratt Williamson the referee.

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