Head coach of the Cell C Sharks Robert du Preez was very pleased with his side’s 28-24 Vodacom Super Rugby victory over the Chiefs at JONSSON KINGS PARK, acknowledging the hard work required to win.
“It was a great result, we needed this game badly to get our campaign properly back on track, so I’m really pleased with the outcome of the game,” he said afterwards. “We will enjoy this win, it was a good victory but a heck of a tough match, the Chiefs are a very physical side, but I’m really happy with our performance. In saying that, there were a couple of opportunities that we didn’t take which is something we’re going to have to work hard on.”
Although there were chances created but not finished off, there was a lot of patience shown, which is a work in progress that continues as the season progresses.
“I think we’ve learned our lessons as we’ve gone along, so it’s pleasing that we are creating those opportunities. We just need to show more patience when we get into the opposition 22.”
The Chiefs are not known as a side to win arm-wrestle style games, but rather to score lots of tries and hopefully more than the opposition, but as in the match against the Stormers the previous week, this was a tight, close-quarter fought battle, and again, not a high-scoring clash.
“We were talking about their physicality the whole week in the build-up to the game,” said du Preez of the Cell C Sharks’ understanding of how the game would be won and lost. “The guys who came in to replace the All Blacks who went home did very well for the Chiefs. It was an opportunity for those players, so we knew it would always be very tough.”
The log continues to resemble a traffic jam during rush hour, although the DHL Stormers’ shock loss to the Sunwolves and the Vodacom Bulls 50 pointer defeat to the Jaguares has opened up a small margin, something that needs to be capitalised upon.
“We just have to win every game, that’s our aim,” the coach said.
Hooker Akker van der Merwe won his second consecutive Vodacom Man of the Match award and his performance pleased the coach.
“Akker has been outstanding, he only has to play 55 or 60 minutes to get that award, amazing!”
His handling, along with the rest of the forwards was, at times, breath-taking on attack, something that has been a part of the team’s training all season. The front row had a massive part to play in the game.
“Skill levels were a big part of our focus since pre-season last year,” the coach explained. “I thought the front row did exceptionally well. The Chiefs have a very good scrum and Beast, Akker and Thomas laid the foundation for a very strong scrum performance.”
This match was the last one against New Zealand opposition in the pool stages, having won three and lost one by just one point for an exceptional record this season.
“We’d like to beat the Aussie teams too, we’d like to beat all the teams! But it is great and if we get an opportunity to play a New Zealand team in the play-offs, that will give the boys a lot of confidence.”
The Jaguares defeated the Bulls 54-24 on Saturday and along with result successes in Australia and New Zealand, are not a team to be taken lightly.
“This is a full-blown international team, so it’s a test team you’re playing, one with quality players,” said du Preez. “They’ve sorted out their discipline and they’re playing great rugby.”
Although there have been some inconsistent results during the season, du Preez believes that this is a side capable of great achievements.
“We’re growing as a team and learning, we just have to take it one game at a time. I said it after the loss against the Bulls that this is a great team, a team that has the makings of winning a championship.
“Whether it’s this year or the next, it’s going to come.”