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AUDIO: The hard work is not done yet says Plumtree

AUDIO: Sharks Head Coach John Plumtree will reflect on the season that was during his flight back to New Zealand next week.

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The Bulls secured a top-two finish in the United Rugby Championship following a 26-14 win over Plumtree’s Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

The hosts were missing injured Springboks Lukhanyo Am and Eben Etzebeth, among others, and were playing just eight days after lifting the European Challenge Cup in London, but were competitive to the end.

After the match Plumtree talked about the season and where the shift happened to focus on their efforts in the Challenge Cup solely.

“From the start, I’ve asked for patience because I didn’t believe the squad was good enough to really be a force in the URC with the Springboks coming back slowly after the World Cup and our depth not being good enough,” the coach said.

“And then pretty much you could see we were going to struggle to make the top eight and then it was putting all our eggs in that EPCR basket which became the plan.”

Looking at the game against the Bulls, Plumtree said he was happy with the performance and the effort by his side.

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“I think everyone enjoyed the spectacle. I was hoping there was going to be a good physical encounter and I think that is what it was.

“We had a couple of opportunities to go ahead and didn’t quite nail it and the difference was their forwards, their mail tries.

“I thought the boys tried real hard, worked hard for each other. I was happy with some of the stuff we did but we weren’t quite clinical enough.

“It was a tough encounter for us, the boys had done a lot of work over the last three or four weeks so I was really proud of the effort.

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“The Bulls side is a tough outfit and they deserve to be where they are.”

Plumtree was full of praise for wing Werner Kok, who had his last outing in a Sharks jersey after signing with Ulster for next season.

“I thought Werner Kok was again outstanding tonight and it was his last game tonight. It was great that we showed him the effort because he brings the effort every week.

“He has been someone we look up to, we might even have a Werner Kok Effort trophy because that guy is just 100% all the time.

“He’s at a stage of his career where he wants to travel and experience different things and you can’t blame him for that.”

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On reflection, Plumtree said the work is not done yet.

“I’m flying back to New Zealand next week and on the flight, I will probably reflect more on the season.

“We’ve done a lot of work, but we still have a lot of work to do.

“So I am proud about the way we went about that and the senior players how they led that charge.

“But I guess the disappointment was that we had three one-point losses here in Durban and I think we had another six four-point losses and just never really quite good enough at times but we’ve learned a lot, I’ve learned a lot.

“The nice thing about it is that we’ve broken in the coaching team that did a really good job. We got used to working with each other and now got good relationships with the players that are staying.”

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