John Plumtree says a poor performance wasn’t unexpected in the Sharks’ hit-out with the Force.
The Sharks used all 27 players in their group, apart from Adi Jacobs who was withdrawn from the bench. Aside from some individuals, the group as a whole lacked cohesion. In the aftermath, Plumtree said he wasn’t surprised with their showing as he believes this was typical of early season hit-outs.
‘We didn’t do much,’ Plumtree said with a shake of the head. ‘We were inaccurate at most things, but at least we blew a few cobwebs out the system.
‘To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from our perspective. We had quite a few injuries during the pre-season, which affected our teamwork. We also brought our Springboks back late into training, which also didn’t help, so were nervous about quite a few areas before hand.
‘Historically our first match of the year is against a smaller union in Witbank or Brakpan, and you don’t get as exposed as we did [on this occasion].’
Plumtree acknowledged the Force outplayed them in most areas. The Force forwards bullied the Sharks at times, but Plumtree expects his highly-rated heavies to improve ahead of their match against the Stormers on Friday.
‘They were a lot better than us in a few areas. We were under-committed at the breakdown. You can only guarantee quick ball when you have numbers, and we were light at the contact points. They showed us counter-rucking is still a major aspect of the game.
‘Our lineout also didn’t function. We had six or seven times to launch from, but the throws went awry. The scrum to a lesser extent also struggled, and without a platform, we had a lot of tackling to do.’
There were more questions than answers for the Sharks, but Plumtree praised two of their recruits from the Lions, Willem Alberts and Gerhard Mostert, ‘who did some pretty good things after a year or so out’.
Force mentor John Mitchell was understandably pleased. He had witnessed his second-stringers handed a hiding from the Stormers, but the areas he had asked them to work on, they did.
‘We wanted to improve our physical methods and habits,’ said Mitchell, ‘and that’s what we got out of it. The boys responded quickly in that area. We don’t usually get hard football like this back home so early in the year, so this was great for us.’
Captain Nathan Sharpe was also complimentary of debutant Andre Pretorius.
‘He’s a fantastic footballer in his own right. He brought composure and organisation, and his style suits us perfectly.’
By Grant Ball, at Newlands