‘I think we’re dead now’— Plum

2013-05-11 00:00

THE Sharks, after a sloppy first half lacking in intensity and organisation, continued their slide into oblivion when they were beaten 32-17 by the Reds in their Super Rugby outing in Brisbane yesterday.

It was the Sharks’ fifth successive defeat and last night coach John Plumtree was not hiding from the ugly truth.

“I think we’re dead now,” he said of the Sharks as their campaign has stalled in the last month with losses to the Stormers, Cheetahs, Chiefs, Highlanders and now Reds since April 13.

The Reds, without a win against the Sharks since 2009, had their bonus point fourth try as early as the 34th minute and led 29-3 at the break.

“We were terrible,” said Plumtree of a nightmare half which saw the acclaimed Sharks defence slip 19 tackles while there were 10 handling errors.

“There were some individuals out there that let themselves down big time,” he added ominously.

The Sharks literally played into the Reds’ hands in the first half.

“The more turnover ball the Reds got, the more confident they became,” said the Sharks coach.

Captain Keegan Daniel, who is battling with his own game and was again ineffective on the night, said the Sharks had been punished for their high error-rate.

“I am proud of the second half fightback [the Sharks out-scored the Reds 14-3]. We turned over far too many balls in the first half and the hill we had to climb in the second half was far too high.”

While the Sharks were left licking their wounds, the Reds were celebrating ahead of their trip to South Africa this weekend. Coach Ewen McKenzie said the team had done nothing new.

“We didn’t actually create anything new. We just dusted off stuff we already had and did it right,” he said.

And the Sharks played along by doing everything wrong as the Reds’ halfbacks Will Genia and Quade Cooper were afforded the freedom of Suncorp Stadium.

Cooper twice handled adeptly to create the early opening score for hooker Saia Fainga’a, but it was the second try — after 14 minutes — which was particularly damaging.

The Sharks (down 3-7) had driven impressively to within a metre of the Reds’ line when they coughed up the ball and the Reds counter-attacked and fashioned a sublime 90 metre try for wing Rod Davies.

The Sharks were only down 12-3 but their heads dropped and they tamely leaked another 17 points by half time.

The SA side did mount a spirited second-half comeback as Anton Bresler and Willem Alberts — on for Pieter-Steph du Toit and Jean Deysel — were added to the pack and their scrum and lineout remained solid.

New wing Piet Lindeque, following a slicing run by wing Lwazi Mvovo, and replacement flank Derick Minnie (from a lineout drive) scored tries.

Indeed, at 29-17 with 15 minutes remaining, the Sharks were dominating territory and momentum, and were within two scores of turning the game on its head.

The assistant referee ruled that a Mvovo intercept try had involved a knock-on and then Daniel put the game beyond the Sharks when he infringed at a ruck.

And that was that as Cooper, with their only points of the second half, kicked the Reds into their unassailable lead.

Even in an improved second half — when the Sharks tightened their defence and pressured the Reds — the handling errors continued and there was a fumbling conclusion to a number of threatening sorties.

Reds captain Will Genia praised the creativity shown by his team in building their 29-3 lead, but said he was disappointed with the second half when the Sharks restricted them to a lone penalty.

“The Sharks are a great side and they showed that by playing themselves back into the game.”

It’s small beer for Sharks supporters, but for a change there was no sign of any serious injury.

That does not mean there will not be change next Friday and a number of Plumtree’s players “who let themselves down” could be watching the game against the Rebels from the grandstand in Perth.


Reds 32 (29) - Tries: Saia Fainga’a, Rod Davies (2), Anthony Fainga’a. Conversions: Quade Cooper (3). Penalties: Quade Cooper (2).

Sharks: 17 (3): Tries: Piet Lindeque, Derick Minnie. Conversions: Pat Lambie (2). Penalties: Pat Lambie (1).

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