Plumtree impressed by dropped Bok Daniel

2012-09-03 00:00

COACH John Plumtree paid a warm tribute to Keegan Daniel after the log-leading Sharks staged a remarkable recovery to beat the Free State Cheetahs 34-32 in the Currie Cup match at King’s Park on Saturday evening.

Daniel, dropped from Heyneke Meyer’s Springbok squad last week, rejoined the Sharks and played a pivotal role in their revival, which saw them score three tries, and 21 points, in the last quarter to seal a bonus point win over the Cheetahs.

Daniel, on attack and defence, in taking up-and-unders and inspiring his team-mates, was at the hub of the action. He was clearly on a mission.

“I thought Keegan was fantastic,” said Plumtree. “His workrate, his tackling, his carrying of the ball, was outstanding.

“He certainly deserves a special mention. He’s been through a lot over the week and it isn’t easy, getting over his (Springbok) disappointment. Yet the way he came back and played for his province was outstanding.”

Plumtree said he was immensely proud of the way the players had fought back after trailing by 16 points going into the final quarter.

“The two tries the Cheetahs scored just before half-time were quite soft and we didn’t really deserve to be down by that much,” Plumtree said.

“We played a lot of rugby in the first half, but we made far too many mistakes. But I was impressed that the players and the team leaders kept their heads up. We knew we could score tries if we were more accurate and that is what happened in the second half.”

The Sharks coach said that there had been a tactical switch in the second half. “They were closing down our backs effectively so we went up in the middle more and we got reward from that. But we did leave it late and that was hard on the ticker.”

Plumtree admitted that the Sharks had turned over far too much possession. “But that is the risk we take with the rugby we are playing. There will be reward, and we can worry any side, if we are accurate. But there are going to be errors and turnovers.”

He said the Sharks wanted to play good, attacking rugby.

“We have seen that the crowds for the Currie Cup are sparse but, if we play the rugby we can, maybe we will get more people in to watch the games.”

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské said his players were guilty of kicking away too much possession in the second half after they had led 21-6 at the break.

“That was not the plan. We thought we had control of the game and our defence was good. We were looking to remain in attacking mode and score two more tries in the second half for the bonus point. “Instead we panicked, became too defensive and kicked ball away instead of keeping it in hand.”

There were errors on both sides, more by the home side than the Cheetahs, but it was a match which also had movement, fierce commitment, moments of controversy and a Sharks side determined to keep the ball moving and score tries. It was a pity, however, that the public has been force-fed so much rugby that only 10 000 spectators pitched up at King’s Park to watch it.

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