The message for the Cell C Sharks as they prepare for Sunday’s Currie Cup showdown with the Xerox Golden Lions at Emirates Airline Park is to stick to what worked against Toyota Free State this past weekend.
Cell C Sharks assistant coach Nick Easter admitted that the coaching staff was extremely pleased with the way the team went about securing a vital victory at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Saturday.
“I think they stuck to the game plan a little bit better which is good, they trusted the game plan especially in the second half when we couldn’t exit quite as we wanted to and had to do a helluva lot of defending throughout the entire game,” he explained in his analysis of the game.
“We said that ultimately it would be our defence outworking their attack because they are a very good attacking side and we managed to put pressure on them. I thought our forwards were exceptional, maul defence was excellent and that’s a strength of the Cheetahs and they didn’t get anywhere with their mauls. Scrummaging was good, Etienne Fynn did a great job with some of the detail at scrums last week and the guys bought into the plan well.
“And just to have the bravery to execute. They showed great resilience and character which is what we are striving for.”
What was also pleasing was the way the team hit back after going down to the Pumas in the previous match.
“It’s always about performance, I think we have that although there was a bit of a kick in the teeth against the Pumas when the first half performance was very good but it was a reminder that if you start giving your opposition any hope – especially away from home – and start getting a bit loose and not doing the basics well and you find it hard to get out of it. That’s a learning thing, it’s all part of the growth.”
Defeating Free State, right at the death, would have given the Cell C Sharks a lot of confidence
“Last minute wins or working your way from a losing position to win a game does wonders for the belief in what you’re trying to do as a team and the cohesion and trust. You can’t put a price on that.”
The message this week will be about more of the same; doing the good things again.
“We’ll be concentrating on doing the stuff we did well, reinforcing that from Saturday although there are plenty of work ons,” he pointed out. “Territory is a big thing in rugby in terms of exerting pressure and we’ve lost the territory battle in all four games. There have been some great performances without the ball and clinical play with the ball, but it’s how we manage the situation.
“Territory is going to be huge, especially up at altitude. The kicking game is going to be massive for us.”
Looking at the Golden Lions, he admitted that it would be tough against a side that banks on a strong attacking game.
“The thing with the Lions is that there is a huge focus on their attacking game, has been for a long time.
“They never go away, their first three games they won by two points, they’re a very fit side, they are well-conditioned to play a high tempo game and keep the ball in play a lot and at altitude you need to be fit for that, and they are.
“There’s no love lost between the two teams and they’ll be hurting, they’ll want to bounce back [from a 31-26 home loss to the Blue Bulls] but we need to start gathering a bit of momentum ourselves.”
Aside from great defence and trusting and sticking to the game plan, Easter also identified one further facet that will be important.
“That’s discipline. Ultimately you talk about territory, but it’s difficult to win the territory battle if you’re giving away penalties.”