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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

Sharks coach John Plumtree happy to see plans come together

The Sharks mentor can be compared to Col. Hannibal Smith from the A-Team after seeing his plans come together.

Sharks coach John Plumtree is now looking forward to their Challenge Cup tie against Zebre after seeing his plans to use the United Rugby Championship as a preparation work-out coming together.

Back-to-back wins in the URC against Ulster and Edinburgh at home have seen the Sharks gain momentum ahead of Sunday’s last-16 encounter in the Challenge Cup with the Italian side at King’s Park Stadium (4pm). The wins also saw the Sharks move from the bottom of the points table to 13th place with 18 points.

‘I love it when a plan comes together’

The Sharks proved to be dominant in both encounters. Most of their game aspects were good, and players put up their hands with glaring performances. This was all part of Plumtree’s plan; he must have felt like Hannibal Smith from the A-Team after seeing it come together.

“It’s a big thing for us, the confidence – you can’t underestimate it in sport. We are working hard, and the leaders are keeping everyone grounded. We know what next week means to us,” Plumtree said.

“It was crucial to build confidence. We know we have a good squad, we have everyone back and the majority of the squad is fit.

“That’s what we needed to create that competition that I have been talking about. The players are being well-led, and we have a bit of momentum going into an important part of the season for us.”

Something to work on

The Sharks were impressive in their 23-13 win over Edinburgh on Saturday at Durban’s King’s Park. They dominated proceedings from start to finish and scored three tries through Aphelele Fassi, Lukhanyo Am and Phepsi Buthelezi.

The one area the Sharks will be looking to work on is converting possession and territorial dominance into points. They struggled to get points when in the red zone and failed to build scoreboard pressure.

“There’s always going to be something to work on,” said Plumtree.

“It’s always nice to have something to build on. We have to look at why we are not nailing those moments. When we crossed the line a couple of times we were held up, so there’s not a lot we can do about that.”

Etzebeth to miss Challenge Cup

Plumtree revealed that some of their squad members had been hit by a tummy bug. He is also expecting to take on Zebre without their talisman Eben Etzebeth, who was substituted in the Edinburgh clash due to a suspected rib injury.

“We don’t know yet, he’ll need a scan. We are hoping that it’s just a cartridge. If that’s the case he could be out two to three weeks. He’s probably sore but again we’ll have a look at that,” Plumtree said.

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