Sharks coach John Plumtree was “happy” with his team’s final Super 14 pre-season hit-out, a 39-9 win over a Bulls second string selection in Durban on Wednesday, but he was still looking for more “accuracy” as his team heads into the season opener against the Stormers on February 14.
www.rugby365.com reports that Plumtree said it wasn’t the 30-point margin of the win that pleased him most, but rather the fact that his team got a decent hit-out.
“I was really happy with that,” Plumtree said in an interview on the Sharks website.
The Sharks mentor said even though it wasn’t the Bulls’ best that arrived in Durban, those players who made the trip ensured that the Sharks got some valuable physical contact in a match situation.
Plumtree has been concerned that his team might be underdone, following the cancellation of their Dubai derby with the Cheetahs last month. Having had to send his second stringers into battle against the lowly Pumas in a hastily arranged back-up fixture, Plumtree was left with just an internal trial (last Friday) and Wednesday’s encounter with the Bulls to give his frontline players some match practice.
And, according to Plumtree, the Bulls came to the party.
“The Bulls intensity at the breakdown was good and their defence hard,” he said, adding: “They were into us at every aspect of the game, it was a good hit-out for us.”
While the physical nature of the game served its purpose, Plumtree felt that there are some areas that need to be worked on.
“I would have liked to have been more accurate and put more pressure on attack, a few times we didn’t finish what we started. There was a bit of inaccuracy when we went out wide, so we need to tidy up a few things.
“But that’s to be expected in the pre-season. I know where we are and we are fortunate in that we still have a lot of power to come back into the pack.”
Plumtree also felt that some individuals showed that the depth in the squad is better than in previous years.
“I’m happy with Luzuko Vulindlu and Skholiwe Ndluvu, they were outstanding. I also thought Burra [Melusi Mthethwa] did well. Ross Cronjé too played well and I though Ruan [Pienaar] and Adi [Jacobs] had their moments.
“We played better than before and will improve next week as well. The intensity and excitement that one associates with a big competition like this will increase.”
There was nothing to report on the injury front, with one or two players coming off with cramp – otherwise “no injury woes”.
In terms of the players still to return from injury Plumtree confirmed that: “We will keep monitoring them during the week, give them some contact and hopefully they’ll be back for the Stormers’ match.
“We will have to be smart over the next few days with them.”
Props Jannie du Plessis and Deon Carstens, along with hooker Bismarck du Plessis, are amongst those who missed the Bulls encounter because of injury.Tweet