The Cell C Sharks got our campaign back on track with a hard-fought but well-deserved Vodacom Super Rugby victory over the Waratahs in Sydney, Australia on Saturday.
The Cell C Sharks can look back on their outstanding and praiseworthy effort over the Waratahs in a combative clash with immense pride.
While the team would have loved to leave Durban with a win under the belt, this result against the Waratahs set the tone for a successful, albeit very tough, tour.
Coming into this match the team had faced a barrage of criticism, but to a man, took it in their stride, acknowledged their shortfalls and answered their critics in the best way possible.
“This was fantastic for us,” a pleased Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez said after the match. “It was really good to win our first game on tour.”
There was high drama during the match with Thomas du Toit receiving a yellow card, while the Waratahs were reduced to 13 men with a yellow and red card of their own which would have been a blow for the home side.
“The TMO and referee reviewed it a couple of times, I think they made the right decision,” said du Preez.
Although there was an advantage for the Cell C Sharks, even without the cards, this was a performance that was full value for money regardless.
“I thought the boys were outstanding, the forwards magnificent.”
He explained that it was all about physically dominating their opponents, something they achieved with aplomb and which set the platform for the victory, the last time the feat was achieved was back in 2000.
“The Waratahs are a very good team. We saw what happened last week against the Rebels; they’re very dangerous. It was our intention to be physical, we knew we had to get the upper hand upfront if we wanted to win.”
He pointed out that the motivation for this match came from losing the previous week and looking to right the ship.
“The game against the Reds was one we could have won had we closed out some of the try-scoring opportunities we created. But that’s been the story of our season to some degree: creating opportunities but not converting them.
“We had a very good week in the build-up to this game and the boys were keen to come away with a win against the Waratahs.”
With the vagaries of the competition this year, the results are not proving to be foregone conclusions. As things stand, both the overall log and the South African Conference are being tightly contested.
The Cell C Sharks win, coupled with losses for the Vodacom Bulls and Emirates Lions, allowed us to leap-frog the pair into top spot in our conference and jump into second position overall, behind this weekend’s opponents the Crusaders.
“The log is quite congested, so it’s really a tough contest,” du Preez concluded.