Plumtree praises Sharks gritty performance

Sharks’ coach John Plumtree on Sunday praised his players for the guts and character they showed to secure their 16-12 victory over the Blue Bulls on home ground on Saturday.


“I’m really proud of the boys. We played some good attacking rugby in the first half and then we had to try and win in a different way in the second half — without the ball — so I thought the guys defended really well,” said Plumtree.


“Everyone was writing us off and I guess that increased the desire,” he said.


It was the Sharks’ strategy in the line-outs which probably helped keep out the Bulls in the frantic final 10 minutes of the extremely physical contest.


The men from Durban tried to enforce the obstruction rule on their opponents, who resorted to the driving maul as their last weapon to get over the try line. They won one penalty with this ploy.


“We were worried about the Bulls’ big, driving lineout and giving them those opportunities in the last few minutes wasn’t good for anyone’s heart,” said Plumtree.


“We put a big emphasis on that [countering the Bulls’ drive] during the week.”


Plumtree rated the victory as one of the best during his time at the Sharks.


“We kept them out and needed a champion effort against a champion team like that,” he said.


“I rate this win right up there. To beat the Bulls, who are probably the best provincial side in the world at the moment, is obviously pretty special.


“If you look at the stars they’ve got and look at our team, we’re probably outnumbered a little bit. It took a big team effort and what was pleasing particularly [was] the way we attacked and didn’t go too far away from what we did all year.”


The win has ensured that the Sharks will contest the final against Western Province at home.


As for the disruption caused by a swarm of bees before the match, the Sharks’ mentor admitted that it had not been ideal for either side, but could see the humour in the situation.


“They were our Natal bees, weren’t they? So they were making a plan for helping us out probably,” he said.


On a more serious note, Plumtree attributed the team’s lack of discipline to inexperience.


“It’s (discipline) something we have to look at and it’s a growth thing as there are still individuals that get excited when we get some momentum and that reversed penalty was disappointing,” he said.


Looking towards the final, he said the week’s rest beforehand would do both sides the world of good.


“The two sides going into the final will be fresh and that will be some contest I’d say. We’ll probably be underdog’s again won’t we?” he asked.

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