Stepping Up

The Hollywoodbets Sharks will go into Saturday’s EPCR Challenge Cup semi-final against Edinburgh bursting with confidence, tempered by the knowledge of what they can expect from the Scots.

The Sharks come into this game off the back of three straight victories across the Vodacom United Rugby Championship and a resounding EPCR Round of 16 defeat of Zebre at Hollywoodbets Kings Park on Sunday.

Hollywoodbets Sharks head coach John Plumtree was full of praise for his team after their seven try to none, 47-3 win over the visiting Italians, acknowledging the role his forwards played and the platform they laid.

“The win was built off the back of forward dominance which was always our plan,” he said after the game.

“We wanted to put Zebre under pressure upfront with our scrum and driving maul and I think the forwards did a great job there.

“I thought Ox [Nche], Bongi [Mbonambi] and Vincent [Koch] upfront were great and the back five worked really well together.”

Looking at his team’s performance generally, he acknowledged that despite coming close to a half century of points, there are still areas to work on, which is a good sign for this team continually growing.

“We didn’t start the first 15 minutes as I would have liked, conceding a couple of soft penalties and we did fluff a few opportunities that we’re disappointed with, but generally it was a good step up,” he pointed out.

“But our defence was generally pretty good and when we got the scoreboard ticking over, the boys settled down and confidence grew as the game went on.”

After three wins in a row, the team is riding a wave of confidence and that has shown in their performances as they build up to something special.

“It was always our plan to do well in this four match block, we’ve got three out of three with an opportunity coming up to play in a quarter-final which is going to be huge for Edinburgh and for us.

“Both teams will be desperate to progress through to the semi-finals, so it’s going to be a tough match.  We know what a quality side Edinburgh are.

“Hopefully we get a good crowd with nice support to help us out.  Edinburgh are a good side, it’s going to be a tough contest.

“We’ve only just played each other so we know what to expect. We know what they will bring in terms of strengths and weaknesses, it’s like a second test.”