Plumtree 'devastated' at loss
Durban - The Sharks' 2012 season did not end as planned, with no glory despite their best intentions and a great build-up to the campaign finale as Western Province broke an 11-year trophy drought in Durban on Saturday.
According to Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick
, reflecting on the rugby year that has now ended in sorrow, Sharks coach John Plumtree admitted after the Absa Currie Cup final that, “To make two finals in two major competitions and not win is devastating.
The Sharks were beaten 37-6 by the Chiefs in this year's Super Rugby final, and lost 25-18 to Western Province in the Currie Cup showpiece.
“The people came out to support us but we let them down. We are really disappointed, we had a good enough side and a good enough plan in place, but we just couldn’t execute it,” Plumtree said.
Despite building up a healthy lead (in the context of a final), the Sharks couldn’t capitalise on their advantage as WP managed to chip away and then overhaul the home side to emerge 2012 champions. The biggest area of concern, said Plumtree, was the lineout.
“The major problem was our lineout, it didn’t function and we just gave them too much possession and they capitalised on that territory advantage in the second half. Whenever we built pressure on them, they conceded penalties and the scoreboard was ticking over. Although we conceded a soft try before half-time, there was never any panic, we just needed to get our lineout functioning and it didn’t.
“You have to give them some credit, we knew what we needed to do at the lineouts, but unfortunately we didn’t have the accuracy for that set-piece to function properly.”
The Sharks thrive on quick ball to get their backs away and into space to score tries, but on this occasion, they battled.
“Once or twice we were a bit slow getting to the breakdown, but we seemed to get slow ball even when we won it,” the coach admitted. “So we’ll have to look at the video; it seemed like their tackle release was really slow, so even when the ball was coming back it was really slow and that was slightly frustrating for us.”
And with that, so the halfbacks - Pat Lambie and Cobus Reinach - had to operate with really slow ball. “I guess that was their plan - to slow us down - and the breakdown is one way to do it.”
After three finals in the last 12 months or so, The Sharks have the ability to get there, but finishing off is a concern said Plumtree. “I’ve been coaching for a long time and when you get as old as me, you want to win. We’ve got a good set-up here and we’re reaching the top, but something is missing and we’ll have to work out what that is. There’s some good consistency because we’ve made three consecutive finals, but we haven’t won them, so that’s really disappointing and hard to take.”
The Sharks will now gather for medicals and final reviews before heading off for a much-needed break after a rugby campaign that barely stopped for air over the course of the last nine months.
They will reconvene in a few weeks’ time for pre-season training ahead of the 2013 Super Rugby competition while seven of their players head to Europe with the Springboks: Willem Alberts
, Marcell Coetzee
, Jannie du Plessis, Pat Lambie, Tendai Mtawarira
, Lwazi Mvovo
and JP Pietersen