Sharks wary of settled Pumas in Currie Cup

Sharks Rugby coach John Plumtree says he is cautious of a settled Pumas rugby side ahead of their Currie Cup clash in Nelspruit on Friday.


The Pumas caused an upset against the Blue Bulls at Mbombela Stadium in last year’s Currie Cup, beating them 22-21, and Plumtree said the hosts would be a tough prospect.


“They have a lot of continuity from playing in the Vodacom Cup,” Plumtree said.


“They’ve been together for a while now and they have the same coach, so they’ll be determined and it will be tough, there’s no doubt.”


The defending champions have been disrupted by national call-ups, but they pulled off a convincing 35-16 win over the Bulls in Durban on Saturday.


“It was a tough match, so we’ve just got to get up there, believe in ourselves, play with confidence and make sure we’re up,” Plumtree said.


Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford said he was impressed by the Pumas in their narrow 31-27 loss to the Golden Lions last week.


“That Lions team hasn’t lost many of the players they had in their Super Rugby campaign,” said Bashford.


“For much of the game the result could have gone either way and it took an intercept try for the Lions to get home.


“The Pumas have a big pack and some exciting backs, so it’s going to be a tough match.”


Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse said he was encouraged by the way his charges shifted the ball against the Lions.


“We have a good scrum and lineout and what makes it nice is that we now all of a sudden have a competitive backline,” said Stonehouse.


The last time the two sides met in the Currie Cup, the Sharks won 30-14 in Witbank.


Meanwhile, Western Province take on a bruised Leopards team in Potchefstroom on Friday night.


The Leopards suffered a demoralising 40-12 loss to the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.


The North West team can, however, take some confidence from their second-half performance.


The Capetonians drew their opening match of the season against Griquas at Newlands and will hope to improve on that performance.


WP coach Allister Coetzee said, despite the thrashing the Leopards got from the Cheetahs, his team would not take the clash lightly.


“We will respect the Leopards, who like all the so-called smaller unions have improved a great deal because they have good systems in place and they are able to call on some very experienced players,” said Coetzee.


Province would go out with nothing less than a win in mind, according to Ceotzee.


“After a draw last week we need to get a win — that’s of paramount importance,” he said.


“We need to go to Potchefstroom and improve on last week’s performance.


“We need to pay greater attention to detail at the set-pieces.”


Coetzee said the team also failed to make use of the opportunities they created against Griquas, which was something they needed to address against the Leopards.


In Saturday’s Currie Cup matches, Griquas take on the Golden Lions in Kimberley while the Cheetahs clash with the Blue Bulls in Pretoria.

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