Winding Down and Looking Up

With two rounds still remaining in the SA Rugby Under 19 Championship, the Cell C Sharks Under 19s have secured top spot and cannot be usurped from prime position as they look ahead to Friday afternoon’s clash with Free State at home.

The Blue Bulls, their closest rivals trail by eight points and with only one more match ahead, cannot catch the Cell C Sharks under 19s.

It’s been a phenomenal year for coach Sean Everitt’s team who have not yet tasted defeat, winning all 10 of their matches to date seven of them with bonus points for an impressive haul of 47 out of a maximum 50 log points. The 39-31 win over Western Province on home soil last weekend would have been particularly satisfying.

Sean Everitt has made two changes to last week’s team: hooker Fezo Mbatha is carrying a slight niggle and is replaced by the hard working Dylan Richardson while DJ Falconer comes in at inside centre for Murray Koster to give Murray a week off to rest his niggles.

“We are exceptionally happy with where the team currently is,” said Everitt. “We would have never thought we would be unbeaten after 10 rounds of the competition, although it was always our goal. We have improved as a group and we’ll continue to learn and hopefully improve even more.”

Finding motivation is always key, but perhaps a challenge (or not?) for a team that has yet to suffer the bitter taste of defeat, and who have already wrapped up top spot.

“It’s important for us that we build on the recent performances we’ve had, we had two tough games – against the Bulls and Province – and had to dig deep, but there is still room for improvement. In saying that, the players have set themselves goals and standards; they want to achieve.

“The guys are winning and they’re enjoying themselves. There’s a great team spirit, they’re switched on and they understand what they need to do.”

He admitted that they are in for another tough game this weekend as Free State chase a top four finish.

“They’re a difficult team to play against, they have a good, well-coached forward pack. They gave us a hard time in Bloemfontein in the first round so we are expecting an onslaught from them.”

Meanwhile the Cell C Sharks Under 21s will look to bounce back after a disappointing defeat to Western Province last weekend. However, they are still well in the running in a tightly-contested competition with enough congestion on the table to suggest that at this stage, no team can be assured of finishing on any particular position on the log.

Head coach Ricardo Loubscher has made a handful of changes, with Franco Botha coming in for Matt Wiseman at hooker while Jacques Ackerman makes way for Kwanda Dimaza at eighthman.

Amongst the back, Francois de Villiers replaces scrumhalf Xavier Swartbooi with Khail Kotzenberg coming in at inside centre with James Tedder shifting to the number 13 jersey.

The Under 19s kick off their match at 1pm at Jonsson KINGS PARK with the Under 21s playing at 3pm.

Cell C Sharks Under 19s

  1. James Scott
  2. Dylan Richardson
  3. Francois Klopper
  4. Lappies Labuschagne
  5. JJ van der Mescht
  6. Vian Fourie
  7. Adam Mountford
  8. Phepsi Buthelezi (C)
  9. Sanele Nohamba
  10. Henry Chamberlain
  11. Asanda Kunene
  12. DJ Falconer
  13. Muller du Plessis
  14. Caleb Dingaan
  15. Thaakir Abrahams

Replacements

  1. Mark Venter
  2. Cole Haggard
  3. Charles Staples
  4. Ignacio Vidal
  5. Sean Barnes
  6. Matthew Doyle
  7. Kieran Houlston
  8. Onke Jiba

Cell C Sharks Under 21s

  1. Jordan Els
  2. Franco Botha
  3. Khutha Mchunu (C)
  4. Dylan Weideman
  5. Andrew Evans
  6. Austin Brummer
  7. Marco Palvie
  8. Kwanda Dimaza
  9. Francois de Villiers
  10. Courtney Winnaar
  11. Ilunga Mukendi
  12. Khail Kotzenberg
  13. James Tedder
  14. Mfundo Ndhlovu
  15. Shane van Rooyen

Replacements

  1. Matt Wiseman
  2. Christiaan de Jager
  3. Jacques Ackerman
  4. William Squires
  5. Xavier Swartbooi
  6. Gareth Simpson
  7. Sicelo Tole