The Cell C Sharks will have played our third match in eight days when we take on the Golden Lions at Emirates Airline Park in a tough Currie Cup derby match on Saturday, looking to end this tough run on a high.
After wins against Griquas last Saturday and the Bulls on Wednesday, we jumped into second spot on the log, but consistently winning games is the all-important aim if we are do well in the competition this year.
With three wins from four matches, the Cell C Sharks are enjoying a good run of form and will look to carry that form through to the Lions match.
The home side have a new coach and new players, with Super Rugby assistant coach Swys de Bruin takes over as head coach from Johan Ackermann who has left the Union to join up with Gloucester.
They will be the shadow of their Super Rugby Final team due to the unavailability of a number of their players.
Kwagga Smith is out serving a four week ban for dangerous tackling in the Super Rugby final while seven of their players are with the Boks and amongst other departures, Lionel Mapoe is off to Japan, while Akker van Der Merwe will be playing – but for the Cell C Sharks – against his former team having moved to Durban after the Super Rugby final.
As mentioned above, we are in second spot on the Currie Cup log while the Lions are in fifth position with one win from three – although they have been contesting the knock-out rounds of Super Rugby which meant their focus was not on the Currie Cup.
Cell C Sharks captain Ruan Botha admitted that our team would be taking confidence from the Bulls game into Saturday’s clash with the Lions.
“We have a two part mission for this week and part one has been successful, the Bulls game is behind us now and it’s great to have the five points, it helps us build momentum for Saturday’s game,” he explained.”
One area of concern outlined by head coach Robert du Preez was the side’s exits from their 22 which he felt weren’t quite where they would like them to be and Botha agreed that it was something they would work on before taking on the Lions.
“We have to work on our exits, although we don’t have a lot of time, and besides that, to make sure our discipline is better.”
The Cell C Sharks set-piece functioned well and they were able to put pressure on the Blue Bulls, something they will consistently look to do.
“It’s always a positive when your lineout functions well and it’s good to put your opponents under pressure. We know the Lions aren’t going to be walk-overs when it comes to the set-phases, but we are looking forward to the challenge.”
The game will be won and lost in a number of areas, as he pointed out.
“The game starts upfront with the forwards and if we front up, then it’s up to the backs to play what’s in front of them,” he explained. “Discipline can win or lose you games, we have a target and against the Bulls we went over that mark, so we’ll look to keep the count low against the Lions.
“We mentally prepared ourselves for this three match challenge, it isn’t easy playing three games in eight days, but we looked forward to the challenge and every moment spent on the pitch.”