Plumtree delighted as Sharks edge Province against the run of play

2012-08-13 00:00

COACH John Plumtree, returning to balmy Durban from wet, cold and miserable Cape Town yesterday, must have been wondering how the heck his Sharks had managed to pip Western Province 25-23 in their weekend Currie Cup opener at Newlands.

The Sharks spent 80% of the game in their own half, their set piece was wonky and referee Lourens van der Merwe blew them out of the game. Yet somehow the under-prepared, travel-weary Sharks took their few scoring chances in the rain of Newlands to score three tries for an important away win.

The Sharks battled to get into the match as they conceded six penalties in 10 minutes.

The penalty count was 10-4 at the break, and in the second half Province were awarded five more penalties while the Sharks did not receive one.

And when veteran flank Jacques Botes was yellow-carded after 67 minutes for an off-the-ball-incident, and Province immediately scored their second try to take the lead 23-22, it seemed certain the Sharks’ poor discipline would cost them the game.

But the Sharks, with 14 men, made a rare sortie into the Province quarter and flyhalf Riaan Viljoen kicked the drop which won the game.

“We conceded way too many penalties,” Plumtree said yesterday, “and we just couldn’t get into the game. Province controlled possession and built a pretty good lead. But once we sorted out our kicking game, things started going for us.

“They didn’t look after a couple of our kicks, we had some lucky bounces and we managed to build confidence.”

Plumtree was delighted the Sharks had won against the run of play.

“It didn’t look like we would get the result, but we fought hard and hung on and managed to get home. Sometimes that’s what this game is all about, winning the hard way, the ugly way.

“It’s a start for us and we will get better.”

Plumtree said there had been a drop in the Sharks’ intensity. “Some boys were tired, but we’ll be back at home all this week for the first time in a while and that will be good.”

He said they would look at the high penalty count (15-4). “Perhaps we conceded a few due to the pressure and there were a couple of high tackles. We’ll have to sort that out.”

He said the win would give the young players in the squad some confidence.

“There weren’t a lot of opportunities in this game because of the weather, but it’s a start.”

The Sharks coach said there were no new injuries.

Young centre Paul Jordaan, who produced the moment of the game with a jinking, 60 metre run to the line for the Sharks’ first try, immediately left the field after again tweaking his hamstring.

But Plumtree said he was “fine”.

“We’ll do a bit of work with him this week, but it’s nothing too serious.”

The Sharks face the Currie Cup champions, the Lions, at King’s Park on Saturday (7.10 pm) and Plumtree said that they would be tough, as they showed in their 43-20 weekend win over the Free State Cheetahs.

“They haven’t lost a lot of their Super Rugby players, so they have consistency in selection. They will certainly be one of the favourites to win this trophy, so it will be a real challenge for us,” he added.

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