Preview: Free State Cheetahs vs Cell C Sharks

The Cell C Sharks will be hoping for a repeat performance of their first match, in our week two Currie Cup clash against Free State in Bloemfontein tomorrow.

Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez has warned that in a shortened competition, as well as for the team’s growth, that it is crucial to keep winning.

“For us, it’s going to be really important that we keep the momentum going. We had a solid start last weekend against the Bulls and we want to make sure we execute the opportunities that are out there.

“Accuracy on attack is vital, and having said that, what stood out for us against the Bulls was our transition from defence to attack. The work ethic and work rate was really outstanding.”

Talking momentum, the side is almost unchanged aside from the loss of Tera Mtembu to injury and this bodes well for a team that is firing.

“It’s a big challenge for us that we have so many guys in our squad who are chomping at the bit to play, some youngsters from the Under 19 side even that has had such a good season,” du Preez points out. “There are some really exciting youngsters that could easily fit into our setup and I’d have no hesitation in selecting those guys if the opportunity presented itself.

“It’s a healthy situation to be in, but at the same time we want to keep the continuity going and winning is paramount.”

Something the coach highlighted was the fact that when the Cell C Sharks play patiently and work their way into scoring opportunities, they can be very dangerous and it’s something they’re working on to good effect.

“Looking back at Super Rugby, we were one of the top four teams for line-breaks and the top offloading team in the competition, but we didn’t convert enough of those opportunities and this has been a focus of ours, it’s something we’ve been working very hard on.

“When we were patient against the Bulls, we did very well. We showed great patience in Kobus van Wyk’s try when we took it through 12 phases.”

Captain and Cell C Sharks hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle has identified this match as one where the team will be looking to be even better than their impressive performance against the Bulls last week. Although Free State will be missing their frontline players, those who step up will be looking for a good run.

“I don’t think the Cheetahs will be understrength, but what it does is present an opportunity for us as a team to excel and play to our standards, so we can maintain consistency and play as we want to, to execute the game plan,” he explains.

“Having lost both of their games means this is a desperate side, in desperate need of points, so we expect a tough encounter. But we’ll look to keep to our structure and do what we do well – to play at a high tempo and with intensity and accuracy. That’s key.”

With Vodacom Super Rugby much like a marathon and Currie Cup more of a sprint, there’s very little room for error in this competition.

“Currie Cup presents a different challenge to Super Rugby, there are only six games before the play-offs, each game is important and if you back up home wins with victories away from home, that will put the other teams under pressure. It’s almost as if every game is a final.”