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Plumtree: No more slip-ups
John Plumtree (Gallo Images)
Durban - Sharks coach John Plumtree said on Tuesday it was vital for his team to win all four of their remaining fixtures if they are to maintain any hope of reaching the Super Rugby play-offs.
"The players know that we can't afford to drop another one," Plumtree said.
The Durban franchise slumped to their fifth loss of the season and second at home, over the weekend, when they were beaten 32-23 by the Bulls after an error-filled performance at Kings Park.
The Sharks face the Waratahs in their last pool match on home turf this Saturday with the Australian side also desperate to win their remaining games for them to remain in contention.
"There are pretty much four teams vying for that fifth and sixth spot," said Plumtree.
"I think all those four teams have been inconsistent this year, probably won a couple more than they've lost.
"But, it’s going to be the side that holds its nerve and plays the best rugby that kicks on."
Plumtree said the fact that they had only one more home fixture and three away games meant they faced a great challenge.
"There are certainly some derby games in there as well, so it won't be easy for any of the teams."
He admitted to being baffled by the number of errors made by the Sharks in last weekend's encounter, including a high tally of knock-ons.
"The basic error rate is not something that can be coached. The players know how to catch and pass, but it comes down to many things.
"You could say it's the pressure the Bulls applied. It comes down to composure - or maybe a couple of players lost their form, which can happen as well," speculated Plumtree.
"Obviously there was a lot of disappointment, dropping a home game like that, a derby game. We've dropped two now at home against two of our biggest rivals, so that was pretty disappointing.
"I think the biggest frustration was that we allowed them to have that early lead and they could play a different style of game after that."
The Sharks will be without prop Jannie du Plessis (knee) and Odwa Ndungane who fractured his hand against the Bulls.
Adrian Jacobs and Steven Sykes (both ankle) face late fitness tests to determine their availability for Saturday.
Plumtree hoped they could put the past weekend behind them when they face they Waratahs who are in fourth place, two points and two places above them on the log.
"There's been quite a lot of self analysis after the weekend. There's a lot of pressure and the onus is now definitely on the players," said Plumtree.
"This whole competition is about pressure and it's so demanding because of the longevity. We're certainly looking forward to a better performance this week."