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Plumtree reveals the 'big stage' in UK for Sharks v Clermont semifinal

REACTION: Sharks head coach John Plumtree said many sacrifices were made behind the scenes as his team secured a Challenge Cup semifinal.

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That semifinal is set to be played in England.

The Sharks will face French side Clermont in the last four after Plumtree’s side recorded a 36-30 win over Edinburgh in Durban in their quarterfinal on Saturday.

Earlier this season tournament organisers for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), confirmed that South African teams can only get home-ground advantage up to the quarterfinals.

It means the Sharks are hitting the road for their semifinal clash despite being the top seeds in the Challenge Cup.

After Saturday’s victory over Edinburgh, Plumtree revealed the road ahead for his team including the host city for the semifinal.

“I am feeling great. I am just happy for our fans and all our stakeholders here at the Sharks,” said Plumtree.

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“We have many people that follow us around the world. They haven’t had a lot to cheer about but now they have something to really look forward to and it is us playing a semifinal in London.

“It is a big stage against a quality French side, so that is something for us to build towards.

“A lot can happen – we still got two games [in the United Rugby Championship] before that.

“The team is happy. This was always going to be a tough challenge playing Edinburgh again and I am just really proud of the coaches.

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“They have been working hard and giving up a lot of their time and I’m happy with the leaders and the way we adjusted in the second half.”

The story continues below…

The Sharks were on the back foot for large periods of the first half against Edinburgh. The Scottish side dominated territory and possession and were 16-14 ahead at half-time.

“It wasn’t a time to panic. We had to tidy up on two or three things,” Plumtree explained.

“One was our discipline and the other was just our skill sets. We were just turning ball over and not playing well and it looked like our confidence was taking a bit of bash and we had to do quite a bit of defending as well.

“I think we had 38 percent possession and territory, so we had no ball and no territory.

“It was pretty much what we did to them last time out [on March 30 in a 23-13 win] and now they were doing it to us, so we had to win the referee over by being more disciplined.

“That was a big message and just believing that if we can tidy some of our skill sets in the forwards and backs, we could get on top of them.

“It was an easy story to tell at half-time. We just had to fix it up.”

The Sharks will now head to the United Kingdom for matches against Glasgow Warriors (April 19) and the Scarlets (April 26).

Their Challenge Cup semifinal against Clermont will take place on the weekend of May 3-5.

@rugby365com

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