Super rugby leaders Sharks need to ‘step up a couple of notches, says coach Plumtree ahead of Chiefs clash

2011-03-15 00:00

THE Sharks are clear at the top of the Super Rugby log, but coach John Plumtree says they will have to “step up a couple of notches” if they are to beat the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday.

The Sharks travelled to New Zealand on Saturday after their unconvincing 34-32 win over the Melbourne Rebels the previous evening, and Plumtree said yesterday the players were in good shape.

“Louis Ludik [fullback] took a knock to the knee, but there is no structural damage. We’ll give him a run and assess him later, but he should be available for the weekend.

“Otherwise we are okay with just some general soreness after a pretty physical game against the Rebels. The players had Sunday off, but they looked sharp at training today,” Plumtree said.

The Sharks coach said the Rebels, newcomers to Super Rugby, had provided his team with their hardest game of the year.

“We were pretty happy to get the win. We weren’t as accurate as we would have liked, but the intensity was up there.”

The Sharks leaked four tries against the Rebels and Plumtree admitted defence remained a concern and one they had concentrated on at practice.

“We made some pretty basic errors in defence against the Rebels.”

He said the Sharks were concentrating on the quality of their performance. “You have to keep performing in this competition. You can’t win ugly all the time, because eventually you will be caught out.”

The Sharks won both their Australian games, but the challenge now is to win the next two in New Zealand.

Plumtree said the Chiefs were unlucky to lose 29-26 to the Hurricanes at the weekend when they outscored the Wellington franchise by three tries to two.

“The Chiefs have played four and lost three and, with all the talent they possess, they must be very disappointed.”

They have lost to the Brumbies, Highlanders and Hurricanes on the road, but thumped the Rebels at home.

“Now they have another home game and will be desperate to get it right,” said the Sharks coach.

While Plumtree was critical of sloppy errors made by the Sharks in Melbourne, he was taken with their character. “When we were down and out, we had to hit back and we did. It was good that we stuck at it. A year or two ago and we wouldn’t have won that game.”

The Sharks game kicks off at 8.35 am (SA time) on Friday.

New Zealand referee Garratt Williamson will handle the game.

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