Plumtree says Sharks’ match against Zebre is ‘must-win’
The Durban-based side have yet to register any points in the new URC season.
Sharks coach John Plumtree. Picture: Gaspafotos/MB Media/Getty Images
Sharks coach John Plumtree has dubbed their United Rugby Championship fixture against Italian side Zebre on Friday night at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi as a must-win.
The Sharks are rooted at the bottom of the URC table as they are yet to register any points this campaign. The Durban-based team have been dealt bad cards at the start of the season.
They began their campaign with difficult games on the road, taking on Munster, Leinster and Welsh outfit Ospreys. They have lost all three matches played on tour, with the 19-5 defeat to Ospreys by far the most disappointing.
As the results have not come, the Sharks and Plumtree have found themselves under pressure. They are also dealing with injury woes as 11 players are on their injury list, including two-time Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks Bongi Mbonambi and Vincent Koch, veteran Francois Hougaard, and flyhalf Curwin Bosch.
And, their other Springbok players will only be available to play again in two weeks’ time.
‘Get some points’
Friday’s game, which kicks off at 7.30pm, is a must-win for two reasons; it can boost the morale of the team, and also get them up and running in the season.
“Ireland (the matches against Munster and Leinster) was going to be a tough assignment for this team that I have got,” said Plumtree this week.
“Last week, we were pretty disappointed with our performance against Ospreys, so it makes this one a must-win for us. We are in round four, but we would certainly like to get some points and get up the table.”
Zebre are in the same boat as the Sharks; they are also winless in the competition. Although they have not won a game they have been one of the most improved outfits.
“Yeah (they have improved), they have been competitive in all their games, so they will be targeting us. They will definitely be smelling a bit of blood, I reckon,” said Plumtree.
The veteran coach wants his side to dictate the terms of the game against their opponents.
“We just have to make sure we enforce our game on them,” he said.
“They like to play with the ball. They like to score tries from deep, though there will be opportunities if we attack well. Hopefully, we’ll build some pressure in attack and put them under a bit of pressure.”
Sharks team: Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Francois Venter (capt), Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Boeta Chamberlain, Cameron Wright, George Cronje, Phepsi Buthelezi, James Venter, Emile van Heerden, Corne Rahl, Coenie Oosthuizen, Dylan Richardson, Ntuthuko Mchunu. Bench: Daniel Jooste, Khwezi Mona, Hanro Jacobs, Hyron Andrews, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Zee Mkhabela, Lionel Cronje, Marnus Potgieter.