Plumtree: We'll take ugly win
Durban - John Plumtree hailed the "ugly win" claimed by his Sharks side after they battled through a difficult 80 minutes to secure a vital Super Rugby victory over the Highlanders in Durban on Saturday.
Patrick Lambie scored all the points for the coastal franchise as they ground out a difficult 28-16 triumph at Kings Park.
The young Springbok back was deadly accurate with the boot as he landed eight out of eight shots on goal - they included seven penalties and a conversion from his only try.
"We had slow ball, so we had to win ugly," said Plumtree.
"It was hard to get any flow going throughout the game.
"We countered nicely, but it was from too deep. So there was no real rhythm for us, but we managed to get the result at the end and that was most important.
"We have to keep on winning to stay in touch with big guns in the competition."
The first 40 minutes of the match was marred by errors from both sides, including an uncharacteristically high number of penalties, before an improvement after the break.
Kurt Baker scored the only try for the visitors early in that second half with their other points coming via the boot of Mike Delany, whose three first-half goal kicks saw them trail 15-9 at the interval.
However, it was not enough for the Otago-based side, despite being in touch for most of the game, as they slumped to a sixth loss in their last six meetings against the Sharks.
For the Sharks, the win was a major boost to their playoff aspirations with Plumtree also relieved to have seen a tight game go his side’s way.
"Thank goodness this is a winning speech," he said.
"We've put ourselves in this position, and the players are actually irritated with themselves."
They were narrowly beaten 18-12 at home by the Chiefs prior to a bye last week, while three of their other four losses had been by less than five points.
"That is in the past now and we only have one of the five wins that we need to keep in touch with those ahead of us," Plumtree said, as he looked ahead to their remaining games before the mid-season international break.
As for Lambie, the Sharks boss was full of praise for his ever-improving 21-year-old, who surpassed the 100-point mark for the season and 300 overall in his Super Rugby career.
"He kicked superbly, and even though he had a few small mistakes, I thought he definitely had a pass mark tonight."