Building Momentum and Continuity

The Cell C Sharks return from their bye to take on the Lions in Saturday’s final Vodacom Super Rugby pool match before the knock-out rounds, as Growthpoint KINGS PARK hosts the final game of the competition.

As things stand, there are two permutations for the Cell C Sharks who have already qualified for the next round, but just who they will face in the quarters will only be determined this weekend.

Cell C Sharks assistant coach Sean Everitt explained the scenario facing the team.

“As things stand at the moment, we’ll play the Crusaders in Christchurch, but if they lose to the Hurricanes and the Lions beat us, we’ll play in Johannesburg. But what’s most important for us is to get onto a winning note, move forward and learn from the mistakes we made against the Bulls.”

Regardless of the permutations, Everitt explained that their main aim was beating the Lions. “That’s what we’re focused on – for us, it’s all about improving and getting better so that we can take momentum into the quarter-finals. Losing is not a discussion for us.

“We’re hoping for an improved performance this week after our last match against the Bulls when we weren’t accurate enough and there were a few things we had to sort out. Regardless of the result of this match, we’re going to have to travel for our knock-out match, but we need to build some momentum going into the quarter-finals.”

The Cell C Sharks came back from the June Test match window break, played the Bulls, then had their second bye over the past weekend which has added an extra planning factor for the team who are looking to grow some continuity in their game at this late stage of the competition, when they still have plenty to play for.

They have already qualified for the quarters, but as Everitt admitted, now is the time to perform.

“The break wasn’t ideal when we had already been off for four weeks, but it did give us an opportunity to work really hard on the things that let us down against the Bulls,” he said. “We had some really good field sessions last week, so hopefully there will be improvement this week. And we hope for another good week of preparation this week leading into the match against the Lions on Saturday.”

After the video of the Bulls game, Everitt explained that, “We identified aspects of the game we weren’t happy with, where there were shortcomings from the individuals, and the players need to know there is a consequence for a lack of effort or urgency. Once they’ve seen those things, it’s something for them to work on and hopefully a lesson learned. As the saying goes: ‘successful people don’t make the same mistake twice’.

“Our problem all year has been our consistency; we play weak opposition and struggle and play the tip teams and win. It has been frustrating for us and perhaps a learning curve for the youngsters – and something we talk about all the time – that there are no easy games in Super Rugby. Yet sometimes we come out of the blocks a bit slowly.”

Everitt confirmed that as far as injuries and returning players go, there was pretty much a clean bill of health. Lukhanyo Am, Kobus van Wyk and Lwazi Mvovo are all available, “but Beast is still struggling with his neck injury. Aside from him, we could pick a full strength side, and will pick the strongest possible team.”

What is the motivation for this match?

“For us to reach the final, which we are aiming for, we have to beat the best, and beating the Lions will give us huge confidence going forward.”