Crestfallen coach John Plumtree was in no mood to mince words on Saturday night after his team had been smashed by the Stormers. He did not hold back, in fact he let rip in a brutally forthright assessment of the Sharks’ performance in going down 32-12.
“We were poor, we were terrible. It was an embarrassing performance – it was men versus boys out there,” was Plumtree’s stark appraisal. “Attitude is everything in sport and they had a better attitude – they just wanted to smash us. In this respect, we have dealt it to them in the past, but they are now dealing to us. Our change room reflects that. There is ice and blood everywhere.”
Last week, the Stormers worked themselves into a frenzied state of battle-readiness because they believed the Sharks were going to gallop into town and try and torch it in revenge for the first-round defeat in Durban, but instead the Sharks barely fired a shot and were bullied into submission. And the limp-wristed failure of the players to respond and fight fire with fire is what has hurt the coaching staff the most.
“There is not much you can say when you are out of the game after 35 minutes, with the opposition having scored three set-piece tries, ruling the breakdown and your team is a metre behind in every regard,” Plumtree continued.
“You have to hand it to the Stormers. The power of the physicality game has shifted in this country and it has come to Cape Town. They are much better than us in this regard, and we have a lot of work to do to catch up to them,” he said frankly.
Plumtree was asked how the Sharks could get back on track after such a compelling defeat.
“I asked the players the same question and they need to come up with the answers,” he said. “As coaches we are also part-time psychologists, I guess, but as a group they have to work this out for themselves.”
A pointer for the players from their annoyed coach would be the subject of hunger.
“It hurts that at the end of the day they wanted it more,” Plumtree reflected. “You can look at the two teams and compare talent, but that is ultimately irrelevant because the team that wants it more will get it.”
Ironically, this very subject was the topic of Plumtree’s pre-match talk.
“I said ‘we have two good sides here and the side that wants it more will win.’ And we spoke a good game but then did not deliver,” the coach said. “We hurt them last year and they are hurting us this year. That is what is happening.”
It was put to Plumtree that everything seemed to go the way of the Stormers on the night, and that the Sharks did not have much luck, but the coach scornfully dismissed this.
“The ball tends to bounce for the hungrier team. It is just the way it is. When you have that extra motivation as a team to succeed, you get the bounce and you get the odd call going your way. It is not surprising.”
This week the Sharks entertain the Brumbies, and Plumtree is demanding a seismic shift in attitude.
“All we can do is deal to the Brumbies like we were dealt at Newlands. If we are going to stand up and be a genuine threat in this competition, we have to shift a fair bit, and most of that has to do with attitude.
“At the end of day the Stormers wanted it more and we got hurt. There were men in one channel and boys in another, it is as simple as that and that is what the players have been told.”
by Mike Greenaway( the pic is with Mike who is in the middle of the ME Sports team )
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