Sharks coach John Plumtree took the Sharks on a trip down memory lane early on Saturday and then the players took the Lions to the cleaners to set up a Currie Cup final in Durban against the Blue Bulls on October 25.
John Bishop writes for The Witness that The Currie Cup semi-finals on Saturday, by way of a change, followed a predictable path with the Sharks seldom seriously challenged in thumping the Lions 29-14 at King’s Park and the Blue Bulls beating the Free Staters, the holders, 31-19 in Pretoria.
Plumtree, dipping into the past, had the Sharks’ three Currie Cup-winning captains, Craig Jamieson (1990), Wahl Bartmann (1992) and Gary Teichmann (1995 and 1996), along to an early lunch on Saturday, just hours before the semi-final.
“We watched videos of those four Currie Cup final wins and the captains spoke of the occasions and the various triumphs. It went down well and hit a chord with the players.”
Eloff praised the Sharks
And the Sharks, slick and organised, were on song from the start with a comfortable counter to anything the Lions tried.
The Lions had unwisely said during the week that their tactic would be to slow down Sharks’ possession at the tackle and referee Mark Lawrence, as he said he would, hammered them at the breakdown with four penalties in the first seven minutes. Two were goaled by Ruan Pienaar and the Sharks were on
Genial Lions coach Loffie Eloff praised the Sharks and their “awesome talent.”
“The early penalties panicked our young players and we were chasing the game from the start, but credit to the Sharks for putting us under such pressure.”
The Sharks, he said, had a side for all occasions.
“They can play a clever kicking game, they can play it tight and they can run the ball wide. They also showed in the second half how well they can defend.”
Plumtree said he was proud of the way his players had responded to enormous pressure they had been under to secure a home final for Durban.
“It is a huge final not only for the players and rugby supporters but also for Durban and the province generally.”
The semi-final had gone according to plan.
“We wanted to start quickly, which we did, and target certain weaknesses with our kicking game, which we did. The first half basically decided the game, but I was delighted with the way we defended in the second half.”
‘Not as accurate’
Plumtree said the only disappointment was not scoring more tries in the second half.
“There were a lot of disruptions in the second half with all their boot trouble (three pit stops by Lions players to change boots within minutes resulted in long stoppages) and the game lost its momentum and flow. But we were also not as accurate as we could have been at times at the breakdown.
“But games of rugby are won as much by defence as attack and I was pleased how we played without the ball.”
The Sharks, after their quick start, were never threatened. They simply had too much across the field for the Lions, the pace of Ryan Kankowski and JP Pietersen, the sniping of Adrian Jacobs, Frederic Michalak and Frans Steyn, the general play of Stefan Terblanche and Ruan Pienaar, the pressure which they applied in the lineout and, as the game progressed, the scrum, and the sheer physicality in all areas of Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira, the improved Jannie du Plessis, and Jean Deysel.Tweet