Sharks' attitude questioned

2011-02-02 13:08

Gavin Rich - SuperSport

Cape Town - Sharks coach John Plumtree readily admitted to a horrible sense of de ja vu after watching his team get thumped 41-10 in their opening Neo Africa Tri-Series engagement against the Lions at Newlands on Tuesday night.

GALLERY: Lions v Sharks Neo Africa Tri-Series

The Sharks started their 2010 campaign with a 26-0 defeat to the Western Force in the corresponding match of last year, and it was not lost on Plumtree that his tormentor in the opposition coaches box on that occasion as also his old Kiwi mate John Mitchell.

There is a bad portent for the Sharks in that the calamitous start last year was a precursor to a disastrous opening sequence of five defeats in the Super 14, and with so much expected of the Currie Cup champions in Vodacom Super Rugby this year, they cannot afford a repeat.

“There was a sense of de ja vu in the changeroom after the game, it did remind us of what happened last year when we started in similar fashion against the Western Force,” said Plumtree.

The Sharks were a lot better on Tuesday night than they were in that match, and the presence of the Currie Cup in their trophy cabinet in Durban is testimony to the growth the team has made since last January/February.

But where Plumtree was right to be concerned was the ease with which the Lions were able to overpower the Sharks near their own line, with three driving maul tries from lineouts close to the tryline appearing to surprise even Lions captain Franco van der Merwe.

While he felt that coughing up possession 24 times, as the Sharks did in the match, was unacceptable, it was those three forward tries that most troubled Plumtree after the game.

“We have a much-better quality squad this year, but a lot of rugby is all about attitude, and that can be measured in how you defend near your line,” said Plumtree.

“The Lions scored three tries through driving mauls near our line, and the ease with which they were able to score posed questions about our attitude. It really doesn’t matter what shape you are in if you are not up there with your attitude. In that sense this performance was disturbing. Some players let themselves down badly.

“Tonight just wasn’t good enough and there are a lot of individual players who let themselves down and who are going to have to pick themselves up and prove themselves when next we play (against the Stormers on Saturday.”

To be fair the Sharks, as was the case in the corresponding game in 2010, were not helped by the fact that their opponents started with 80 minutes of rugby behind them whereas this was their first match of the season at this level.

“We had the reference point of the Stormers match to work on and that helped us a lot,” acknowledged Mitchell. “We saw what went wrong there and where we fell down and it gave us something to work on, which we did over the past three days.”

The Lions that turned in such a rousing display last night were beaten 15-0 by the Stormers in the opening match, and Plumtree is hoping his men will make a similar improvement now that they have been given such a massive wake-up call.

“I don’t expect the Stormers to help us try and regain our confidence because I am sure there will be an element of revenge for them in this game for what happened in the Currie Cup final,” said Plumtree.

“But we do know what we need to work on. Apart from those forward tries coughing up possession 24 times is unacceptable, and we conceded 15 penalties to seven. I thought the shape of our game was good. What let us down was patience. The Lions defensive game has improved immeasurably, and you need to be patient against good defensive teams.

“So those are lessons that we can use. It was a disappointing performance but there is an opportunity for us to set it right by standing up in what will be an extremely stern test against the Stormers. This is a chance for players who let themselves down to set the record straight.”


  • Makutu - 2011-02-02 13:25

    I was there and John Smit was dismal. Missing lineouts, moved to scrumand was penalized multiple times. Sory but the man is finished GOOD. Finished. Craig Burden played so much better than him at Hooker! - 2011-02-02 14:25

      People seem to love to pick on the skipper hey. The whole team was poor, not fair to single them out. Sharks will bounce back and so will Smitty (as he always has).

      Johnny Sidestepper - 2011-02-02 14:32


      Johnny - 2011-02-02 14:51

      ....yes, ....bye bye Fattie..... ...time to go...!!!

      mike - 2011-02-02 15:47

      Warm up game for crying out loud. Do you guys even know what that means, Bulls have been pathitic in there warm up games for the past 2 seasons and have yet won the Super 14 both times. Just relx, enjoy it as a warm up to the start of an awesome season of rugby ahead, but please don't start making calls on players teams etc. This is the time to get the wiife used to the rugby again and make sure you have billies and beer on hand for match weekends, dont stress if you missed the Billies this game, we won't judge for it!

      Jay - 2011-02-03 08:03

      Well said Mike, its going to be a cracker season with OH SO MUCH RUGGA!!!!!!!!

      Stox - 2011-02-03 12:29

      "Like" Jay comment...

  • di - 2011-02-02 14:11

    Sharkies always need a wake-up call:) Hopefully this was it before the "Big League" begins...

  • Mazizi - 2011-02-02 14:22


  • Slingervel - 2011-02-02 14:34

    Come on Lions! This is just what we waiting for, although we realise it is going to be a long and tough season. Vat hom flaffie! Die Leeu brul weer!

      Wouter - 2011-02-02 16:53

      Lekker ou Slinger! My team is back! I can just imagine other teams' fear at the sound of the roaring Lion!

  • Pieto Smith - 2011-02-02 14:35's bad...atleast we can look on the bright side, this was just a friendly, and not the real deal. I'm pretty sure the Sharks will catch a wake up on saturday and that they will be favourites for the tournament in 2011..c'mon Sharks, show your steele!

  • Rob - 2011-02-02 14:35

    Sharks better up their game. Credit where its due, to the Lions. Com'n boys, you need to wake up

  • brinjal - 2011-02-02 15:25

    Sharks are known to take a while to get going after a slumber.

  • NkunzNkunlu - 2011-02-02 15:55

    "The Sharks were a lot better on Tuesday night than they were in that match, and the presence of the Currie Cup in their trophy cabinet in Durban is testimony to the growth the team has made since last January/February. " They can thank SARU for mothballing the contracted players for that trophy. Kept Bismarck on the field and kept the best players in the other provinces off it.

      pauljansevan - 2011-02-02 16:13

      Really, that is weak!

      Makutu - 2011-02-03 10:37

      Where you at the stadium to watch them play sir?

  • Walker Plumbers - 2011-02-03 06:30

    Most of you know NOTHING about rugby. It was a warm up game and after a couple of months of holiday you expect this. The Lions on the other hand have been working hard to get their house in order so they were up for it. We will be back when the competition starts and just watch had we do to the Lions then. One Warm up game is not the S15!! Goooooo SHARKS !!

      watalife - 2011-02-03 09:31

      You know nothing about rugby/sport. If you are proffesional then you should always be up to the task. They were useless and thats the fact here. Fat boy smittie must leave before he makes his name more kak than it is. So i guess we cant rely on you as the a good plumber as you are not always at you best?

  • Theuns - 2011-02-03 08:21

    Remember there are 14 other players, if one player has an off day the team should be good enough to cover for it, the sharks did nor arrive for the game, and the Lions are back with a vengance this year.........! As a leader John are the best in world rugby, as a player he should retire while he is still remembered for the good things he achieved in rugby. Please John, retire whilest you would be remembered as a legend.

  • wesley.g.mercer - 2011-02-03 11:12

    Watch the Sharks this coming Super season you will be surprised

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