Durban – Sharks coach John Plumtree accused his team of naivety under pressure following their 6-16 defeat to the Stormers at Kings Park on Saturday night.
“We played into their hands in the first half and should have kicked for territory more,” Plumtree said after the Vodacom Super Rugby match.
He was also concerned about the Sharks’ poor handling and lineout play.
After a good start to the tournament, in which the Sharks won their first four games, they have now lost three times in succession and are dropping behind the leaders.
They certainly can’t afford another defeat when they play the Lions on Saturday.
It’s a tricky tie for the Sharks as they have struggled in recent matches against the Lions. Last year they lost to the Lions towards the end of the league phase of the Currie Cup.
The Sharks’ lack of continuity and penetration are major concerns.
“The 50-50 chances also did not go our way,” said Plumtree.
“There were a few borderline refereeing decisions that went against us.
“We put in a decent effort and really tried hard, but things did not work out. The Stormers were in control throughout.”
Asked what had changed since his team played the Capetonians last year, Plumtree said that Springbok lock Andries Bekker is making a big difference in the lineouts and that Peter Grant, who had played in Japan for a while, is a significant improvement at flyhalf.
“The Stormers believe in themselves and that makes a big difference,” he said.
The Sharks have largely played as individuals in their last few games and did not build enough phases to finish their moves. Players crossed the advantage line on a few occasions, but then there was no support.
Plumtree also does not believe their hectic travel schedule – they played the Crusaders at Twickenham the previous Sunday following a tour of Australia and New Zealand, played a part in their defeat.
“We were in it until the end, but could not make an impression on the scoreboard,” said Plumtree.