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Plumtree breathes a sigh of relief

REACTION: It is all smiles and happiness in Durban after the Sharks ended their five-match losing streak in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday.

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The Durban-based franchise recorded a much-needed 22-12 win over Ulster in Round 12 of the URC at Kings Park.

The win was their second of the URC season and also helped them climb from the bottom of the table to 14 place with 14 log points.

Speaking after the match, Sharks head coach John Plumtree admitted the result brought much relief after a troubling period for the Durban-based side.

“There is certainly a lot of relief,” Plumtree said whose side recorded their first-ever win over Ulster.

“It is good to see a lot more smiles. It’s been pretty tough.

“We have been working hard for the last couple of weeks. So I am happy for the players.

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” It has been frustrating times for a lot of people here including the staff. So, it’s good to come on Monday with sets of work-ons and not have to pick the team up.

“Hopefully, we keep building from here.”

Plumtree finally had the luxury of fielding his strongest team of the season with seven World Cup-winning Springboks in the squad.

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Captain Lukhanyo Am, Eben Etzebeth, Jaden Hendrikse, and Makazole Mapimpi were in the starting XV, while Ox Nche and Vincent Koch injected the extra physicality from the bench.

Plumtree praised the internationals and said they added another level to the team’s performance.

“That’s what those big players can do. They have a knock-on effect on the other players, and they lift them,” Plumtree said.

“All of a sudden we saw aspects of our game we hadn’t had working up to now; our scrum was better and our mauling, too.

“We did fluff some chances. We got into some nice spots and didn’t finish them off. So we are still not accurate in that space, something for us to work on.

“I’ve encouraged the leaders to step up and own the team and drag the others with them. I was really happy they did that.”

The Sharks will host Edinburgh next week in Durban before shifting their focus to the European Challenge Cup fixture.

Plumtree’s men take on Zebre in the Challenge Cup Round of 16 on April 7 at Kings Park.

“We have another tough URC game against Edinburgh next week. The first two URC games [against Ulster and Edinbughr] were all about preparation for the upcoming EPCR game.

“We really want to do well in that competition.”

The coach revealed that the No.8 George Cronje could be out for the rest of the season after he sustained a medial collateral ligament (MCL) on Saturday.

Cronje was stretchered off the field after just 80 seconds of play.

@rugby365com

 

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