Vodacom Super Rugby
Plumtree: Play full 80 minutes
Durban - Sharks coach John Plumtree wants his players to be on the alert for the entire 80 minutes in this week's Super Rugby match against the Bulls in Pretoria as they bid to qualify for the playoffs.
"You have to start well and finish well and it has to be pretty good in between," said Plumtree.
The Durban team have played well sporadically rather than continuously and their most recent match saw them overturn a 21-point deficit to draw 30-30 with the Lions over the weekend.
Although it was a spirited comeback, it now leaves Plumtree's men with having to win at Loftus Versfeld in order to guarantee qualification, unless the Brumbies can shock the Waratahs in Sydney.
"We've talked about that (having to come from behind) as a group," the coach said.
"We've struggled in the first 15-20 minutes and it's got better as we've gone on," he said of playing at high altitude.
"But certainly we can't afford that against a quality side like the Bulls. So we need to make sure that doesn't happen this week."
One of the problem areas in the match against the Lions - the third successive match where the Sharks have come from behind to salvage anything - was the poor handling at the back of the lineouts and Plumtree is hoping the problem can be fixed.
"It's a mixture of everything and it's an area which we've got to address as a pack," said Plumtree.
"When the boys concede lineout tries or, for that matter, just metres, then their heads begin to drop. They hate doing it. It's an area where we have to make sure we don't get dominated in this week.
"I'm sure the Bulls are going to go there, you saw what happened in the last game here, so it's not going to surprise us if they're going to have a crack at it again. It's pretty much part of their plan and what they've done all year."
In their previous meeting, just under a month ago in Durban, the Bulls won 32-23 - keeping the defending champions in the competition.
Now, they go head-to-head in a potential knock-out match, providing the Waratahs win their game as expected.
"They're a great side and they've got some great leaders," Plumtree said of the Bulls.
"They've now found some momentum and they'll be enjoying what they're doing.
"Their confidence will be boosted by beating the Stormers in Cape Town so they've got plenty to play for this weekend, which will spur them on, but so have we."
The Sharks' boss will boosted this week by the return of Willem Alberts from a shoulder injury after the loose forward missed out last week, while Jean Deysel returns from suspension.
However, winger Odwa Ndungane (hand) has been ruled out and prop Jannie du Plessis (knee) again faces a late fitness test.
Plumtree conceded his side will be underdogs, but is determined not to let that stop them from ending in the top six.
"I'm sure we're underdogs but the thing is, we do have plenty to lose. We don't want to be knocked out of this competition, we don't want to be worrying about the Waratahs-Brumbies score, although I guess we'll be keeping a close eye on it.
"But we'll know what we need to do before the game. For us, the boys are very proud and we don't want to go out there, roll over and die for the Bulls.
"We want to go there, play some good rugby and that is what our aim is this week. We've just got to get our strategy right, we're working on that at the moment, and make sure everything else in terms of attitude and commitment is there and hopefully we can give them a good go."