VIDEO: 'The mirror is a good place to start'
Too many players in the Sharks team failed to ‘turn up’ at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria at the weekend, resulting in a humbling 10-44 loss to a high-flying Bulls team in their United Rugby Championship Round Seven encounter.
The result saw the hosts remain in third position on the standings, while the Durbanites find themselves closer to the foot of the table in 15th position in a 16-team competition – with only one win.
The Bulls produced a clinical performance, outscoring the visitors six tries to only one penalty try and penalty goal by the visitors.
Such was the effectiveness of the home team’s attack, they banked their four-try bonus point on the stroke of half-time and added two more in the second half.
The Sharks fielded a team that featured 14 Springboks – including World Cup winners Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi, Jaden Hendrikse, Eben Etzebeth, Ox Nche and Grant Williams.
It will require a dramatic and instant turnaround as the pressure and intensity will be ratchet up – as they face French giants Pau in a European Challenge Cup Round One outing at Kings Park in Durban.
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A bitterly disappointed Sharks coach, John Plumtree, said he was “surprised” how little his team has progressed this season.
“Clearly, we are still not a team yet,” he said of a side that seems to be just a collection of individuals – some whom are two-time World Cup winners.
“That Bulls side is a ‘real’ team and collectively they are a bit ahead of us,” Plumtree added.
He said they simply did not match up physically.
“A lot of guys missed their mental preparation.
“There are a lot of individuals in this team that didn’t turn up and that is not good enough.”
Plumtree said the ‘foundation of the team is not solid enough, but he believes there is enough ‘talent’ top deliver a better performance.
“We are aspiring to be like that,” he said of the Bulls’ victorious performance.
“It looked like there were some pretty rusty players out there – not just the ones I have had all along [in Durban], but some that have returned from France.”
(WATCH as Sharks coach John Plumtree gives a brutally honest assessment of his team’s humbling loss to the Bulls in a URC Round Seven encounter…)
Plumtree admitted Pau, despite dropping down to fourth in the Top 14 standings in the wake of a 13-36 loss to Toulon at the weekend, will be a ‘big’
test for his struggling team.
He pinpointed the set piece as their biggest concern ahead of the next fortnight’s Challenge Cup action in Europe.
“We have to do a bit of soul-searching as well, mentally.
“It is going to be a pretty ugly review on Monday and the players will have to look at how we are going to respond.”
He added that they have let themselves down.
“The mirror might be a good place for the boys to start and after that we will see what we do on Monday.”