A Fitting Finale

The Cell C Sharks will go into this Saturday’s Currie Cup Final against Western Province at Growthpoint KINGS PARK with a lot of confidence following our semi-final victory over a game and competitive Vodacom Blue Bulls side.

It is a fitting finale to the domestic season, with the top two sides contesting the final, and the top finisher hosting it. If Saturday’s semi-final is anything to go by, the final should be ever more explosive and exciting.

The Cell C Sharks showed a lot of character to win, but it required a monumental second half performance to see off the Bulls who came out the changerooms in resurgent form.

“It was a good effort before the final, I thought it was a fantastic performance from the boys,” said head coach Robert du Preez after the game.

“There are a couple of things we know we need to work on, but this was great, a job well done. We have to sort out our exits, that wasn’t great and we couldn’t really get momentum in the second half, we gave away too many penalties. We’re going to have to be vigilant as far as that goes.

“All credit to the Blue Bulls though, I thought they came here to play, and they did, they played very well.”

As far as finals rugby goes, du Preez suggested that there was more to come from his side, despite winning the most games in the tournament.

“I don’t think we’ve hit our straps completely, yet,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll put that together in the final against Western Province on Saturday.”

Putting the Bulls under early pressure paid dividends, especially after two early tries put us on the front foot, and a further two to end the half with four tries.

“There was a big emphasis for us on starting well, and we did.

“Although we had a bad start to the second half the boys showed a lot of character to pull the result through.”

The positive to take out of a game like this is the nature of the preparation it gives ahead of a final. Were it too easy, the team might not have performed so admirably, particularly under such pressure from the Bulls in the second half. Having weathered everything the Bulls threw at us bodes well for Saturday’s final.

“That was definitely the kind of game we would have liked to play before the final.”

This week will offer nothing hugely different to previous weeks as the team goes about the preparation for Saturday’s big game. There is the slightly different preparation to consider though, and that’s on the mental side, particularly for the youngsters, many of whom will be playing in the biggest game of their lives.

“For us, this week is going to be a case of ‘more of the same’, we aren’t going to change anything although there were a few areas of concern that we will work on. It’s going to be a new experience for a whole lot of guys, but there’s a lot of excitement here and that’s a good thing.”

There was bad news for Sbu Nkosi who may have dislocated his shoulder. He was taken to hospital for scans.

Meanwhile, the team will start their preparations for Saturday’s showdown with Western Province in earnest today, hoping to close out the season on a high.

A lot of hard work has been expended this season, winning ten games on the trot suggests as much. Winning the semi-final and hosting the final argues just that.

“A home final means everything for us,” said the coach. “That’s what you play for, to play in front of your fans, in a final, at home.”