the Sharks are a happy team so far

MIKE GREENAWAY

This time last year, the Sharks were in Christchurch preparing for their first tour game, with just two points in the bank (from two narrow losses at home) and no flyhalf to speak of (Andy Goode joined the team later that week.

A year on, John Plumtree’s decidedly merrier men are top of the South African conference (on points difference) and are second only to the Waratahs on the overall log, while in Patrick Lambie they have a flyhalf that is improving with every Super Rugby outing and they have prime insurance in the position in Jacques-Louis Potgieter, who proved his worth in snaffling a pass from Blues fullback Ice Toeava that cost the Blues a try and instead gave JP Pietersen the winning score for the Sharks.

And for Plumtree, a hugely positive fact is that the Sharks have won their games without conceding a try.

“We were better than last week, weren’t we,” Plumtree asked rhetorically, and with a wry grin. “It was disappointing that we did not finish off a few more tries, but to keep a team as dangerous as the Blues scoreless was a big highlight. We knew we would have to shut down their space and scramble hard to stop their lethal back three, and be accurate in defence around the rucks – we talked about it and then went out and executed it, so I have to hand it to the boys. They really wanted that game tonight and our change room was full of exhausted bodies.”

And one extremely sore one. Eugene van Staden, the replacement prop formerly of Griquas, suffered a serious collar bone injury not long after he had taken the field and enjoyed a sprightly run down the touchline, which culminated in a grubber that was deft for a roly-poly fellow.

“Eugene won’t tour, which is a big pity for him because he has yet to leave South Africa,” Plumtree said with smile. A replacement will come from one of two up-and-comers, Dale Chadwick and Wiehahn Herbst, both of who were scrambling to get visas for Australia yesterday. One of them will join the Sharks in Perth later this week.

Plumtree said that Sherman tank flank Jean Deysel is on course to join the team in Melbourne, for the second tour game. Deysel seriously injured knee ligaments six months ago.

The other long-term injury is to Ross Skeate, who broke a finger in the Neo Africa Tri Series in Cape Town in early February, and that came not long after he had recovered from groin surgery following a gym mishap. Plumtree said that the plan with Skeate was to leave him behind to do serious conditioning and only call him up to the tour should there be second-row casualties.

Meanwhile, Blues coach Pat Lam praised the Sharks for their ability to put his team under pressure.

“We had 25 lost possessions and that effectively killed our chances of building pressure, and that is credit to the Sharks’ defence,” the former captain of Samoa said. “We had little go-forward and we were messy at set piece, again credit to the Sharks. It is a pity because this could have been a very good game. Mind you I guess it was from a Sharks perspective!”

Lam pointed out that his team had spilled the pill seven times against the Crusaders in their brilliant win over the seven-times champions the week before but this had mushroomed into that total of 25.

“The Sharks forced that error count. They are a good side and are certainly our nemesis! They will definitely be contenders if they play to their potential. They have a good core of Springbok forwards and an excellent coach in Plum. They are touring early, which is an advantage and they will be looking to reap whatever points they can and then come back to South Africa and make a charge for the play-offs.”

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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