Back on Track

Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez was pleased with his team’s showing in the Vodacom Super Rugby defeat of the Rebels at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Saturday, the victory important to the team’s goals.

“We needed to get our campaign back on track, it was a tough week for the boys after the loss to the Vodacom Bulls and by coming back as we did was great,” he said after the match.

“We had a brilliant week in training, the boys really dug deep, there was a lot of introspection from a number of individuals, so I was very pleased with the response; I’m very happy with the win.

“We had a good start and ended well, that’s what we asked for. In the first 20 minutes I thought we played really well and then finished well; that’s pleasing.”

Du Preez also mentioned discipline as a key area in determining the win. The Rebels once again conceded too many penalties for the second week in row, both contributing to their own demise.

“Discipline and giving away penalties were crucial. Penalties slow down your momentum and in the first 20 minutes we conceded maybe one penalty.”

Mentally, this game saw the shift needed from the Cell C Sharks as they put in a dominant performance and then blew the Rebels out the game with a commanding second half effort that saw us hold the visitors scoreless in the second 40 minutes.

“There was a big step from the boys after that loss,” said du Preez. “Especially in the second half when we did so much better than the first half when we were a bit tentative.

“The message at half-time was that we needed to be more assertive in terms of our decision-making and to keep the ball a lot more through the phases and we accomplished that.

“The strength of this team is when we keep the ball through multiple phases, then we’re really dangerous. However, there were a couple of times when we kicked the ball away, so that’s something we need to work on.”

The Cell C Sharks will be hosting the Vodacom Bulls at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Saturday in our return leg Vodacom Super Rugby clash, and du Preez admitted that the expectation is of another huge contest.

After beating three South African opponents in local derbies, the Pretoria side suffered a significant setback to their competition aspirations when they lost 56-20 at Loftus on the weekend.

“They suffered a heavy defeat against the Chiefs so we expect a backlash from them after that loss, they’re a proud team.”

The state of the competition is in flux right now. A Vodacom Bulls home loss to a side that has struggled this season was an anomaly, as was the previously undefeated Crusaders going down to the Waratahs. There have been many such upsets to date.

“That just goes to show that if you’re off your game, anything can happen on the day,” the coach explained. “You have to be on top of your game every match, week in and week out.”

That goes for winning at home.

“If you want to be a force in this competition, you have to win your home games. We’ve lost one already, we don’t want to lose again.”

The coach confirmed that Craig Burden would, along with Philip van der Walt, probably be in contention for selection this week.