“I think you talk yourself out of it before you even fly in” John Plumtree tries to explain why it is always tough to go to Kimberley to play the Griquas, “We have to make sure we embrace the challenge. We know what’s coming. Three a clock at altitude. Normally the ground is quite dry and its quite different from playing in the major stadiums. They don’t have lights. You can’t play there in the evenings. We just have to embrace all of that and get on with it.” He may not be able to quite put his finger on it, but like most other teams he knows that it is not easy to win against the Griquas in front of their home crowd.
Although they have struggled to put a win past their opposition so far, Plumtree won’t make the mistake of considering them as a weak team this year. “Every contest that the Griquas have been in they have been right in it and leading (for most of the game)” says Plumtree, “The way they dismantled the Lions was really impressive. The try they scored in the end, thirteen phases starting in their own 22 and finishing it off, was top draw stuff.”
The Sharks have been making a habit of getting behind on the scoreboard this season only to put in a comeback effort in the second half, it has worked out for them 3 out of 4 times, but Plumtree says that it is something they hope to improve on, “Our intention is to start well. We’ve talked a lot about the error rate which have been a bit frustrating.”
He says aside from the error rate, which they would like to clean up to try and improve on their first half efforts, they felt that the senior players in the group need to step up, read the game situation and change some tactics and plans out on the field, “The way the Cheetahs were defending we had to change our attack. Going into halftime we felt that, that was something we had to work out earlier. That was a bit frustrating and is something we’ve talked about as a group, because if you do it halftime when you’re down 21-6 it can be too late.”
The Sharks will have some continuity in selection this week, although it looks like Steven Sykes are still in doubt with a rib problem, the in form Meyer Bosman is likely to be selected in the midfield again, where he has been playing an important role, “Meyer is enjoying the leadership and responsibility. He’s making all the calls and all the plays. He’s been accurate defensively. His awareness of space has been good. The long pass he threw to Odwa on the weekend was crucial and his kicking game as well, putting in a couple of nice little kicks, has been really good.”
Although the Sharks have lost a huge group of players through Bok call ups and a few long term injuries, Tim Whitehead and Pieter Steph Du Toit, both expected back in 3 to 4 weeks – 2 weeks at best, with JP Pietersen who is expected to get a run before getting called back to the Boks, Plumtree has been reasonably happy with the progress his smaller squad has made, “There’s one round to go and we’re top of the log. It’s a pretty good effort and I’ve been really happy with the way they have applied themselves to date. We’ve seen glimpses of some great play, but have been quite average as well. Its really important as a team that we just gradually improved throughout.” Plumtree says.
The Sharks are slowly getting there, but Plumtree says that they can’t afford to give sides big margins and then play catch up rugby, maybe the first thing they should look improve on this weekend in Kimberley.Tweet