Plumtree happy with Sharks’ Currie Cup start

Sharks coach John Plumtree applauded his young squad after their solid start to their defence of the Currie Cup title on Saturday.

The Sharks defeated the Bulls 35-16 in Durban in the opening round of the top-flight competition.

“I’m just really proud of these youngsters,” Plumtree said.

“They really stood up tonight; the scrum was outstanding, the effort and energy in the phase play was great and the defence around the goal-line was really good.

“The challenge now will be to keep the feet on the ground.”

Plumtree admitted they had not had it all their own way against their Pretoria rivals, but was pleased with his team’s efforts, particularly in defence.

“The Bulls dominated a lot of the territory, but when we did get down to their end we managed to get points, which was great, be it through a penalty or a try,” he said.

“But I guess it was our defence that was really important. They had to sustain a lot of pressure for long periods of time and that was where I was really proud of them.”

Griquas coach Abre Minnie was also satisfied with the performance of his young side, despite playing to a 26-26 draw with Western Province in Cape Town.

“We believed 100 percent that we would win the match,” Minnie said.

“We’re sitting with really good players despite the fact more than half of our team are really newcomers at this level.”

Minnie said they had worked hard in defence in the build-up to the season, which paid off on Saturday.

“We’ve realised that if we want to win the Currie Cup, we must brush up on defence,” he said.

“We can score tries but we have also conceded lots of tries in the past.”

The Griquas’ mentor, nonetheless, admitted they had some work to do if they were to challenge for this year’s title.

“We did poorly with our kicks. We wanted contestable kicks and then we placed ourselves under pressure because we lost ball too easily,” Minnie said.

Province coach Allister Coetzee, also fielding an inexperienced outfit, with the majority of South Africa’s top players either on international duty or nursing injuries, was not disappointed, nor was he entirely satisfied with the draw.

“For us it was a pleasing result, considering we went into the match without a warm-up fixture,” Coetzee said.

“Having said that, it’s not nice to draw, especially at home.

“This performance was kind of expected from a young team with new combinations.”

Coetzee said they were able to take a number of positives from the errors they had made.

“We employed the wrong tactics at the scrums,” he said.

“We have to learn to respect the ball. We were up against a team that lives off turn-overs so it was a hard lesson for the youngsters to learn.”

Elsewhere in the opening round of fixtures, the Cheetahs defeated the Leopards with a convincing 40-12 victory in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The Lions also got their campaign off to a winning start, but were made to work hard for a 31-27 victory over the Pumas in Johannesburg on Friday night.

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