Lessons learnt for Sharks
Johannesburg - Sharks coach John Plumtree hopes his players will take a lesson from Saturday's Currie Cup semi-final performance against the Cheetahs in Durban after booking their place in the final for a third time in four years.
The defending champions scored 17 unanswered second-half points against their rivals from Bloemfontein to surge to a 20-13 victory, setting up the competition final against the Golden Lions at Ellis Park next week.
"What happened to us out there today could work in our favour next week," said Plumtree, following an error-strewn first-half.
"It shows that unless the team functions as a group then we're not going to get what we want.
"There were too many individual acts out there, but fortunately we managed to turn things around in the second 40 minutes."
Hennie Daniller's 23rd minute try and eight points from the boot of flyhalf Johan Goosen gave the visitors a 13-0 lead after just 24 minutes as they dominated the hosts in most areas of the game.
Frederic Michalak and Patrick Lambie also wasted three penalties in the opening period that went all wrong against a team that have beaten them on the last two occasions they have met in the playoffs.
"There were a number of things that happened that we just found it hard to really get any momentum," Plumtree said.
"So it was all just real frustration and I could see the players were getting frustrated as well.
"We got that try early in the second half and straightaway we got a bit of belief."
The Sharks also fielded all their available World Cup Springboks with two of them, Tendai Mtawarira and Odwa Ndungane, scoring tries.
Apart from Jannie du Plessis, the other national players were mainly on the fringes in New Zealand - a reason Plumtree gave for the poor showing among the forwards earlier in the game.
"You could see in the second half they began to get a bit of a second wind," he said.
"Mtawarira hadn’t played for a while. Jannie’s played a lot, but I think was a bit flat, Willem [Alberts] as well hasn’t played a full 80 minutes for a while and Bismarck [du Plessis] is the same."
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské described his team's attack as being their poorest of the campaign.
"We were unable to maintain the same performance for a full 80 minutes, it’s been like that all year," Drotské said.
"I think the emphasis this week may have been too much on defence, which the guys did well, but our attack I think was the poorest of the season.
"I think for the first time we've got a lot of continuity going into the Super 15 [next year] with a good blend of youth and experience.
"Once we get Coenie Oosthuizen, Juan Smith and Heinrich Brussow back, they’ll bring further quality in, so we can now look to the new year with real optimism."