Plumtree wants Sharks to show more bite in final

SHARKS coach John Plumtree wants his side to show more bite in the final against Gloucester. | Shutterstock

SHARKS coach John Plumtree wants his side to show more bite in the final against Gloucester. | Shutterstock

Published May 5, 2024


THE Sharks will play England Premiership team Gloucester in the final of the Challenge Cup on May 24 and coach John Plumtree is hoping his charges will hit the ground running after a poor start in yesterday’s semi-final against Clermont.

The Sharks resurrected themselves from the dead to overturn a 31-18 deficit to win by one point and advance to the final. From a position of little hope, the Sharks scored all of the points in the second half bar three.

“We were nervous in the first half and made poor mistakes on defence to give Clermont all the ammunition to attack us and score tries,” Plumtree said.

“It was unfortunate because that is not how we planned to play,” he said. “We didn’t aim to put ourselves under pressure, but we kept giving them opportunities in our danger zone, and they took them.”

Plumtree said the half-time talk was about stopping feeding the French opportunities and transferring the pressure.

“In the change room, we said no more errors, and let’s start playing some rugby and let them do the defending.

“I said, ‘Let’s move the ball and make them make mistakes on defence because we have the talent to make them miss tackles.’

“The guys changed the way they were playing and the second half was very different,” Plumtree continued. “That showed a lot of character. I told them to take the game to Clermont and they did.”

Plumtree said he wasn’t worried about Clermont’s 10-point advantage at half-time.

“I believed we could make that up if we gave it a full go. I did not want us to lose without having given the second half a full go. We did that and we won.”

While it is a fact that big names such as Eben Etzebeth and Ox Nche came through after quiet first-half performances, the true hero was flyhalf Siya Masuku.

“Siya is a lovely story,” Plumtree said. “He has come through on the big stage. He has made the most of the extended run of games we have given him.

“He needed game time (in replacing stalwart Curwin Bosch) and he has got better and better. The cool thing is that Siya still has plenty of improvement in him.

“He is riding a crest of the wave at the moment and his attitude is so good that I can see him getting much better.”