Sharks outplay tough Pumas

2013-02-16 00:00

JOHN Plumtree was one satisfied coach after the Sharks ended their Super Rugby build-up with a 50-19 win over a tough Pumas outfit in their second and final pre-season friendly at the kaNyamazane Stadium in Nelspruit last night.

The Sharks ran in eight tries on the night and Plumtree said the Sharks had improved on the efforts a week ago when they thumped a limited Leopards side 71-8 in Pietermaritzburg.

“It was a step up from last week, which is exactly what I wanted,” said Plumtree, referring to both the standard of the Sharks’ rugby and the quality of the opposition.

And, in contrast to last week when Keegan Daniel and Tim Whitehead were sidelined, he said there was no immediate injury concerns apart from the usual bumps and bruises.

The Sharks were quickly out of the blocks with two early tries taking them to a 12-0 lead.

But the Pumas refused to lie down and scored a try of their own to cut the deficit to five points (12-7). The Sharks started to take control before the break and led 26-14 at half-time.

In spite of numerous changes as Plumtree cleared his bench — including changing the entire front-row and replacing flyhalf Pat Lambie with Meyer Bosman — the Sharks ran in 24 points in the second half, while the Pumas’ only reward after the break was a late consolation try.

Five of the Sharks’ tries went to loose forwards Jacques Botes (three) and Marcell Coetzee (two), a late replacement for No. 8 Tera Mtembu.

Centre Paul Jordaan crossed for two tries and fullback Louis Ludik one.

Wing JP Pietersen was yellow-carded in the first half following a high tackle in what was otherwise a satisfying trip to Nelspruit.

The Sharks will now spend a couple of days at Kruger before returning to Durban to prepare for their Super Rugby opener against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein next Saturday (5.05 pm).

• Jonathan Kaplan, South Africa’s most experienced referee, who is to retire at the end of the season, will handle the Sharks’ first two games, against the Cheetahs and then the Stormers at King’s Park on March 2.

The Sharks’ third-round game — against the Kings in Port Elizabeth on March 9 — will be refereed by South African Jason Jaftha.

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