Plumtree welcomes turnaround
Durban - Sharks coach John Plumtree was relieved that his team was able to put behind them a "passive" first half display and turn over the Crusaders in their Super Rugby encounter in Durban on Friday.
Springbok flyhalf Patrick Lambie starred for the hosts by kicking all the points in a 21-17 win over the seven-time champions at Kings Park, where Andy Ellis scored the only try and number 10 Tyler Bleyendaal added the remaining points for the visitors.
The match had several resemblances to the Sharks’ round five clash against the Brumbies when the coastal franchise fell to a humiliating 29-10 loss, also in Durban.
"We had a really good plan for them defensively, but in the first half we were just too passive," Plumtree said.
"We allowed them momentum and it was sort of similar to the Brumbies match where they were just building pressure and building pressure.
"The difference I guess was they didn’t score three or four tries." Crucially for the hosts, the boot of Lambie, which landed seven out of seven shots on goal, kept them in the hunt, while Bleyendaal missed crucial kicks down the other end.
"I thought he (Lambie) kicked beautifully all night. I guess at half time after being under so much of pressure during that opening half and just being two behind, it gave us a bit of belief" said Plumtree.
"If we could put our act together and up the intensity, we could win.
"But we sorted that out at half time and then we put them under pressure, we got the ball ourselves and played some good rugby then.
"We looked like we could win, and as I said, the belief came back, there was more confidence and we managed to capitalise on some tiredness from them towards the end. So it was a tough match."
The Sharks coach was also pleased with his team’s ability to continuously grind out results after hardly hitting top gear in their five wins from six games this season that kept them top of the South African conference and third overall.
"We’ve got so many big players out of our side, so to be where we are is really pleasing," he said.
Bismarck du Plessis (knee), Willem Alberts (shoulder), Butch James (knee), Jean Deysel (ankle) and Tim Whitehead (hand) are all currently sidelined through injury.
There was more bad news after the game with Plumtree revealing that Louis Ludik (shoulder), who was bracketed amongst the substitutes but did not feature, and Jacques Botes had also joined the lengthy casualty list.
"It looks like we’ve lost Botes with a broken arm. It looks like Louis Ludik needs an operation that will put him out for two or three months. Odwa Ndungane picked up a hamstring strain as well."