Plumtree praises ‘positive’ Sharks

2013-04-29 00:00

A CITING of a Springbok, another serious injury and the last-gasp loss of a bonus point effectively took the gloss off the Sharks’ admirable revival against the Super Rugby champion Chiefs in Hamilton, where they were beaten 37-29 on Saturday.

The Sharks, in a dramatic final two minutes of action, first lost scrumhalf Cobus Reinach to injury, frittered away a bonus point after the final hooter and finally had salt rubbed in open wounds with the citing of Springbok centre Frans Steyn for foul play.

The Sharks, down and seemingly out at 0-24 after 16 minutes, had narrowed the gap to 34-29 on the final hooter when Keegan Daniel, on as a replacement, conceded a penalty at a ruck, which the Chiefs goaled for an eight-point win (37-29). The spark for this chain of events came in the 78th minute when Reinach, the Sharks’ first-choice scrumhalf but coming off the bench for the final quarter, intercepted and was tackled just short of the line by Chiefs centre Tim Nanai-Williams.

The breakdown resulted in damaged ankle ligaments for Reinach, a penalty at the ruck for the Sharks and a later citing for Steyn, who was charged for entering the ruck without use of his arms. Steyn will appear before a disciplinary hearing today, while Reinach flies home with a grade two strain.

Sharks manager Rudolf Straeuli told The Witness yesterday that Reinach could be out for four to six weeks, adding that College Rovers scrumhalf Tian Meyer, who has played in the Sharks XV’s last two Vodacom Cup games, will join the squad ahead of Saturday’s game against the Highlanders in Dunedin. Meyer, a product of Westville Boys High, has played Super Rugby for the Lions.

Straeuli said that wing Lwazi Mvovo and Lions loosehead JC Janse van Rensburg had joined the Sharks, while wing JP Pietersen, who could be used at centre, was over his ankle injury.

“Willem Alberts showed good form for the Sharks XV on Friday and he may join the touring squad when they reach Australia.”

Plumtree, speaking in Hamilton, said he did not know whether he should praise the Sharks for their rearguard action or criticise them for the dreadful start and then surrendering a valuable bonus point on the final hooter.

“We should have taken two points from the game and I’m annoyed about that. I’m also not happy about giving the Chiefs a flying start of 24 points.

“But the character of the team was good and I’m proud of the positive rugby we then played. We haven’t scored a try for three weeks and then we scored four when we were under the cosh.”

Plumtree said he was delighted at the way in which a number of the new players rose to the occasion. He singled out number eight Tera Mtembu, Lions flank Derick Minnie and Wiehahn Herbst, playing out of position at loosehead prop, for special mention, and said that he was also pleased to see the improvement in the form of Frans Steyn.

The Sharks travel to Dunedin to play bottom-of-the-log Highlanders on Saturday and this time anything but a win will be seen as a major failure.

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