Sharks putting springs in Plumtree’s step with on tour resilience

KYLE Steyn of Glasgow Warriors is tackled by Tino Mavesere of the Sharks at Scotstoun Stadium on Friday night. | Shutterstock

KYLE Steyn of Glasgow Warriors is tackled by Tino Mavesere of the Sharks at Scotstoun Stadium on Friday night. | Shutterstock

Published Apr 21, 2024


SHARKS coach John Plumtree hates losing with a passion, yet he left the Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow on Friday night with a spring in his step.

His team had lost 21-10 to the Warriors in the United Rugby Championship, but this was Plumtree’s second-stringers and how they kept the opposition scoreless in the second half indicated how much the Sharks have grown since snapping their losing streak six weeks ago.

The context to the game is that it was a Sharks team bereft of resting heavy hitters up against the team second only to Leinster on the URC table. The home team, well coached for some time by former Springbok Franco Smith, were hungry to nail a bonus point to steady their position on the log and keep the baying Bulls at bay.

But try as they might, the Warriors could not add to their three tries in the first half and it was the Sharks who scored more points after half-time.

Jake White at the Bulls would have been cheering on the team he once coached as the Warriors failed to get the full complement of log points.

While the Sharks had written off this game so that they could keep their best power dry for the Challenge Cup semi-final against Clermont on May 4, they needed not to fold on Friday night. From a morale perspective, that would have undone some of the momentum generated by four consecutive wins.

“I am proud of the effort,” Plumtree said.

“The boys showed me they were not intimidated in that environment. Scotstoun is a fortress for them and a lot of our guys had not played for a while. We were understandably rusty in the first 25 minutes, but one thing that never flagged was the effort.”

It was indeed an impressive effort from a team that showed 15 changes to the side that beat Edinburgh in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals. The scale of change meant cohesion on attack was doomed, but the Sharks made up for this with their tackling.

“I was very impressed with a lot of our defence,” the coach added.

“We swamped them. Their third try right on half-time hurt us, but the big thing is that we came back and played for the full 80 minutes. That took a lot of effort against an opposition that was trying desperately to break us down.”

That did not happen and the Sharks ended up doing much of the attacking in the last quarter.

“This might sound strange considering we lost, but this was a good start to our tour,” Plumtree smiled.

“Some guys put their hands up and we look forward to the Scarlets game this weekend.”