Plumtree: Final a bridge too far

Getty Images     05 Aug 2012     Getty Images

Sharks coach John Plumtree said that when so much effort was put into recovery, as had been the case for his side, at the expense of preparation a blowout like that experienced in Hamilton could happen.

He said he didn't know how the situation which saw his side qualify for the play-offs and then fly to Brisbane to play the Reds, return to South Africa to play the Stormers and then fly to New Zealand to play the Chiefs could be improved upon.

It was a competition where teams controlled their own destiny. It was a big ask for any team to go through.

The final margin was the Chiefs' highest winning margin of the year, it was the fourth match in succession in which the Sharks had not been able to score a try against the Chiefs.

In the game first five-eighths Aaron Cruden kicked 17 points to end with 251 for the season, a New Zealand record and surpassed only by Morne Steyn's 263 points, while the Chiefs accumulated more than 500 points for the first time.

"What they threw at us we just couldn't respond to," Plumtree said.

"The Chiefs were very good tonight. We stopped their momentum with our defence and Aaron Cruden was just putting the ball over the top of us and finding space so they kept finding a way to get momentum, whether it was through his kicking game or the way they played through [second five-eighths] Sonny Bill Williams.

"We stopped their forwards then we had to stop him. It was just they had some outstanding tiers of attack in the conditions tonight. They won the collisions in defensively and attack and we couldn't gain the advantage line so it was really tough tonight for us," he said.

The Chiefs had also been able to utilise the wet conditions with the forwards especially putting their low body heights to good effect.

"They were deserved winners, it was probably a bridge too far for us," he said.

It would be naive not to think the travel hadn't taken some toll, he said, but he acknowledged again the Chiefs had played very well.