A Shot at Redemption

Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez was disappointed at our side’s loss to the Lions in the final pool match of Vodacom Super Rugby, but suggested that a second chance this weekend might yield a different result.

In the post-match media conference, du Preez admitted that he wasn’t pleased with the team’s performance, saying, “The Lions outplayed us in every area of the game; that was a really disappointing performance.”

However, with a quarter-final clash with the Lions at Emirates Airline Park this Saturday, there was a wonderful second chance open to the team.

“There is certainly light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s a second chance on Saturday. But I’m not happy with the way we played, there just wasn’t enough effort.

“I don’t mind losing if you’ve give your best, I think everyone would be happy with that,” he said. “The fans too, but if you come out here and get beaten up like we were, and make so many errors, then that’s just not good enough from the Sharks.”

Du Preez admitted that the permutations that faced his side as far as where they would be playing their quarter-final match – either against the Lions in Johannesburg which was a much better prospect than travelling all the way to New Zealand to take on the Crusaders – that their focus may not have been where it needed to be.

He doesn’t believe that this is a poor side that can’t win matches.

“There’s no doubt that this is a good rugby team, I have no doubt that we have very talented rugby players.”

Asked to put a finger on what went wrong, he felt there may have been a combination of factors.

“We had two very good training weeks in the build-up to this match, I was really pleased with the way we prepared, so the effort was certainly there at training.

“Listening to the ref’s mike, I could hear that the Lions were so much more vocal than we were. I think we went into our shell a bit and just couldn’t get out of it.

“But you have to look at the mental state of mind and how switched on the players are. I guess, in the back of the players’ minds was the travel to New Zealand, that could have played a role. But not to the extent that it happened in this game.”

The message to the players will be all about redeeming themselves against the self-same Lions, a rare opportunity to make good.

“It’s do or die for us now, it’s a final,” he said. “It’s all to play for and everything that’s gone before is over now and we have one bite at the cherry. We have that opportunity, so it’s in our hands, in the players’ hands.”

Summing up the pool stages with nine wins from 15 pool outings, he felt that inconsistency was their biggest problem.

“We know there were games that we should easily have won, that’s the disappointment about these 15 games, that it was so up and down.

“We couldn’t build momentum. But we have a go at this and I believe that if the players really believe in themselves, we can win this game.”