Blunt Sharks fail to flatter
Sharks coach John Plumtree was visibly disappointed with his side's uninspiring 22-15 loss to the Stormers on Saturday.
Sharks coach John Plumtree was visibly disappointed with his side's uninspiring performance in their 22-15 loss to the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday.
The side from Durban were bullied in the set-piece and looked lost with ball in hand in what can only be described as a slug-fest at Newlands.
The coach summed it up at the post-match press conference: "We weren't good tonight, we struggled to create momentum, we had to play a lot off slow ball, we didn't kick intelligently and we were really under pressure for most of the evening."
This was all true as the Stormers seemed to go into the match with more enthusiasm as well as a much more concise gameplan.
"Their confidence went up and they were able to put us under pressure at the set-piece, and I guess we put them under pressure too it was a pretty tough encounter, but generally for us to attack better we didn't have the momentum that we needed.
"We didn't create many opportunities for the backs because we didn't have the momentum that you need against this team.
"We tried to change our tactics slightly in the second half and we got a little bit of momentum but we don't adjust quick enough to different tactics out on the field," Plumtree added.
These tactics did not do the trick for the visitors as they, once again, looked clueless in the face of a massive Stormers defensive effort.
The slight ray of hope for the boys from Kwa-Zulu Natal were the performances of Pieter-Steph Du Toit as well as Cobus Reinach.
The two youngsters really made a statement against a Stormers side that was on top for a vast majority of the game.
Du Toit was incredibly ill on the morning of the game but you would not have thought it when he asked questions of the Stormers defence and made tackle after tackle.
"I am so pleased [Du Toit] for him, he had a really bad night - he was vomiting and was on a drip this morning so I nearly didn't start him but it just shows you the character that kid has got.
"He is going to be a giant for us eventually, he has still got things to do but I am so excited for that kid, he has got a big presence and he has got the skills, he has just got to learn the game a little bit more and understand it a little bit more and he will be good for us," the coach said.
Plumtree was also full of praise for his industrious scrumhalf: "He was outstanding, he was probably playing behind a beaten pack so that was a very impressive performance, not only on attack but also on defence.
The set-piece was another area that the Sharks were outplayed in and it was a massive contributing factor to the lack of momentum.
"It was just a funny night for us from a set-piece point of view, but good on the Stormers obviously they had to step up in that area," he mentioned.
The difficulty at the set-piece must be credited to a spirited Stormers forward pack who really showed the more experienced Sharks pack how to conduct a successful scrum and line-out.
The only injury concern that the Sharks do have at the moment is JP Pietersen who injured his ankle in the second half of the encounter.
Plumtree said: "His ankle is pretty sore, I am a bit worried."
Losing a player like Pietersen could be devastating for the Sharks who are laden with injuries as it is at the moment and losing an experienced player like him could prove costly going forward.
It is going to be an incredibly difficult month for the Sharks as they take on the Cheetahs then head on the overseas leg of their campaign, and if they do not change something it could be a fairly steep downward spiral for the Banana Boys.
By Nick Tatham