Sharks find golden touch in Kimberley

2008-08-03 00:00

IT was a weekend of good cheer for Sharks coach John Plumtree as his team first buried Griquas in Kimberley and then he heard yesterday that three of his Springboks have been returned to him for Friday night’s Currie Cup away game against Western Province.

Bok coach Peter de Villers has released four Boks from his national squad and three of them are Sharks backs — Ruan Pienaar, Frans Steyn and Odwa Ndungane.

Plumtreee said yesterday that centre Brad Barritt and flyhalf Frederic Michalak, who missed the Kimberley trip, could be fit for Cape Town, and suddenly he has a surfeit of backline talent available.

The Sharks, in Kimberley of all places, finally found the plot to overcame the intimidating surrounds and thump Griquas 44-15.

Plumtree was delighted with the form, comittment and discipline of his young team, describing the display as “easily our most impressive in the Currie Cup”.

“The players produced some of their best rugby of the year and I’m sure that surprised Griquas. They kept to the game plan and kept Griquas under pressure.”

Down the years, organised, talented Natal teams have travelled to Kimberley and been knocked silly by the locals; on Saturday the Griquas were the ones who were bumped out of their stride and harassed into error.

The young Sharks had been disrupted by change, but the reasons for success were obvious as Plumtree’s game plan worked a treat. The tight five were superb, not only on set plays, but also in the tight loose, where the experienced Deon Carstens, Skipper Badenhorst and Jannie du Plessis played critical ball-carrying roles.

Their efforts not only provided momentum, but also allowed the excellent back row of Jean Deysel, Jacques Botes and Keegan Daniel to express themselves in open spaces. They breached the gainline almost at will and laid the platform for the backs.

“We wanted to turn their pack with kicks and we did not want to play in our half,” Plumtree said.

The plan worked perfectly, while a number of his selections also came up trumps.

Monty Dumond and new centre Riaan Swanepoel were heavily involved, while Waylon Murray, running straighter, started showing signs of his obvious potential. Seven tries were created — and it should have been eight but for an over-officious touch judge who saw a forward pass when everyone else saw a try.

“There were still some problems,” said Plumtree. “The defence leaked at times and we lost some of our structure in the second half.”

But by then a difficult job had been done and the Sharks had already nailed down a win which many thought would be beyond them.

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