DURBAN – The architect of the Sharks’ destruction at Jonsson Kings Park on Saturday, John Plumtree, believes the Sharks are the team in Super Rugby that can halt the Jaguares juggernaut in its tracks.
The Durbanites leave for Buenos Aires tomorrow to play the Argentine team that has just finished their Australasian tour unbeaten (for the second year in a row) and are comfortable leaders of the SA conference.
The Sharks are desperate for the win after losing 30-17 to the Hurricanes at home and if they are stand a chance of making the playoffs then they have to win this Saturday in the most hostile of environments and then again the following week in their regular season finale against the Stormers in Cape Town.
The Sharks lost heavily to the Jaguares at Jonsson Kings Park two months ago, and the Hurricanes in turn lost to the Jaguares in their match prior to coming to Durban, so Plumtree is in a good position to judge how the Sharks might fare this weekend in the Argentine capital.
“Look the Jaguares are a very good side. They have heaps of international experience and they have some really talented backs,” the former Sharks coach said. “Their set piece functions really well, they are fit, and they can keep fresh because they have a big squad of good players.
“They are also really niggly around the breakdowns with their physicality, but the Sharks can match all of that so there is no doubt in my mind that the Sharks can do a job on the Jaguares. The Sharks have the forwards to do it, plus the Sharks are playing really good rugby away from home, so there is absolutely no reason why they can’t win there.”
The proviso is that the Sharks manage to outmuscle the Jaguares because the Sharks’ game plan struggles to get going if the forwards do not gain the ascendancy. As soon as the Sharks are matched or beaten in the tough stuff, they mostly lose. It happened when the Stormers, Bulls, Reds, Jaguares and now the Hurricanes came to Kings Park.
Plumtree said that going toe to toe (and blow to blow as it turned out) with the Sharks in the trenches was the key to his team prevailing.
“First of all, for us as a Hurricanes team to come over here and win in Durban for the first time since Super Rugby started is very special,” he acknowledged. “At the start of the season we talked about this game being one we especially wanted to win, and to achieve that is great.
“Physicality was always going to be the key to winning... Absolutely. Yeah, we read and heard plenty about what they were going to bring to the game (physically) so that added fuel to our fire, which was great.
“All week we talked about it and our forwards and scrum coaches did a very good job in making sure we knew what was coming.”@MikeGreenaway67