In a Good Space

Following back-to-back Vodacom United Rugby Championship victories at Hollywoodbets Kings Park, the Hollywoodbets Sharks are well-positioned for the remainder of the season.

Speaking after his team’s 23-13 victory over Edinburgh Rugby on Saturday, head coach John Plumtree explained that the team faced numerous challenges before and during the game, but credited the way the team stuck to their task.

“We were playing OK, we just didn’t finish all the opportunities we created and were held up over the line one or two times, or one or two passes that just didn’t stick,” he said.

“So these are things we can improve on.”

Facing challenges and meeting them head-on is the sign of a mature side and this was something Plumtree was very happy with.

“I was really pleased we didn’t get frustrated at half-time after dominating possession and territory, and we started well in the second half and continued to build pressure. The boys were ripping into their workload.

“It was a difficult game, a lot was going on out there so it’s good that we got over the line.”

While it’s frustrating not always closing out the opportunities with a score, the positive to read into that is the fact that the team is creating scoring chances.

“There’s always something to work on, but it’s a lot easier when you’re winning, especially the home games in front of our own supporters.

“The focus for us has been to finish this season well, we want to do well at home for the fans. There are lots of things happening behind the scenes: we’re growing our game and our leadership and that’s really pleasing.”

Plumtree admitted that Vincent Koch reporting early on Saturday morning that he was sick and unavailable didn’t help their cause, compounded by other incidents.

“It was difficult and we had to make adjustments, before and during the game. Emile van Heerden was also sick and vomiting at half-time, we had only one forward left on the bench, Vincent Tshituka had taken a bang to the knee as well, so there was a lot happening.

“But I was pleased the boys didn’t panic, they adjusted well.”

While the victory was built off a professional and committed team effort, Plumtree had words of support for the man of the match, Aphelele Fassi.

“I thought he was outstanding. He’s been playing well all year, and although he’s prone to making the odd mistake, that’s what happens with players who create something special. He’s climbing right up there, he’s finding more consistency in his game and it’s lovely to see how much he’s enjoying his rugby. He’s a genuine attacking threat for us, but I thought he tackled really well. And that 50-22 kick of his was lovely, it was a big moment in the game.”

At this stage of the tournament, and with the EPCR knock-outs looming, the Hollywoodbets Sharks are in a good space.

“The nice thing about our team is that it’s connecting on and off the field. The boys are enjoying each other’s company, we have a good vibe going. 

“There are obvious challenges in our environment because I’m a new coach and there’s a lot of work to be done, but the team is happy.

“We’re also developing competition within the squad which was part of the problem for us at the start of the season.

“Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth and Lukhanyo Am are doing a great job leading the group.  Ox Nche chimes in with his technical detail too. We have some nice youngsters coming through too which is really good because they provide the energy and newness to the group.”