Plumtree happy with Sharks win, but ‘still heaps to keep working on’

2010-09-20 00:00

COACH John Plumtree said that the pink Sharks were deservedly rewarded for their ambitious approach as they beat the Free State Cheetahs 30-16 in Saturday’s bruising Currie Cup match at King’s Park.

The Sharks ran in four tries to one to secure a bonus point and cement their place at the top of the Currie Cup log with three league games — against the Lions (Ellis Park), Leopards (King’s Park) and Western Province (Cape Town) — remaining.

Plumtree was satisfied with the win, but admitted “there is still heaps for us to keep working on”.

“The high intensity of the contest, the occasion and the pressure led to mistakes by both teams,” he said, “but it was physically very demanding.

“The outcome was great for us, but there was a time in the second half when the game could have gone either way.

“But we remained ambitious, even threatening from our own half, which was pleasing and ultimately we deserved the win.”

Plumtree was encouraged by the strong finish of the Sharks after they had fallen away in the second half of their two previous games, against the Blue Bulls and Pumas.

The Sharks coach was delighted with the scrummaging effort of his forwards, which had allowed number eight and man-of-the-match Ryan Kankwoski to run into space and create two of the four tries.

“Ryan was able to launch from a solid platform, but he is probably the only number eight in world rugby who can do what he does.

“It is really good to see him playing with confidence.

“He is growing as an individual, and so is his game, and he’s going to get better and better.”

The Sharks surprised the Free Staters by pressuring their highly-fancied front-row in the scrums and earning a number of penalties and free kicks from referee Pro Legoete.

“Some props in this country have technical problems and Free State got hurt there.

“They will probably have to look at what they are doing wrong.”

Plumtree refused to criticise scrumhalf Charl McLeod for tapping and running an easy penalty when the Sharks were only 18-16 in front.

The gamble paid off and McLeod scored a crucial try, which took the Sharks ahead by nine points.

“Teams feel the momentum out there in the middle and those decisions are made on the field.

“I’m never hard on players if they are not rewarded from a quick tap, but sometimes you do need to take the points. The players have plenty of confidence at the moment and they were rewarded.”

Plumtree said that fullback Louis Ludik had taken “a bit of a knock”, but there were no other injuries.

The Sharks travel to Ellis Park on Saturday, and victory over the Lions — with a Durban game against the struggling Leopards to follow — would almost certainly leave them in an unassailable position at the top of the log.

Currie Cup roundup, page 18.

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