First matches of the season are never easy, given that there has been very little time for a team to gel in the game situation, but a win is a win and the Cell C Sharks now tour with a spring in their step.
Following the first-round win against the Vodacom Bulls, Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt alluded to the fact that it wasn’t the perfect performance (and in all fairness, a perfect performance is rare, virtually impossible).
“I thought we were fortunate to get the result, although we came out to play rugby,” he explained after the match.
“We’re obviously relieved, we haven’t beaten the Bulls in nine games, so we’re happy with the result. There was a lot of effort out there, we said we want to excite people and I think at times we played some really good rugby. The conditions are difficult at this time of year in Durban as we know and it’s very hard to hold the ball through multiple phases.”
Both teams battled with the slippery ball which is nothing new at this time of year in Durban, although the Bulls suffered greater consequences. However, veteran Morne Steyn had a good day with the boot, something Everitt admitted to.
“The Bulls kicking plan worked really well and they did put us under pressure,” he said. “In the first half we got a bit mixed up in our kicking plan, we wanted to kick back contestables so we wouldn’t have to face Morne’s boot on the return.
“But we sorted it out at half-time and certainly got better in the second half. S’bu Nkosi’s try is an example of that, scoring off a well-executed kick from Curwin Bosch.”
Everitt also admitted that the lineouts were a bit of a concern, “but I think that’s down to nerves. Our lineout functioned well against the Stormers, so credit must go to the Bulls, they did their homework on us and put us under pressure.”
Vodacom Bulls coach, Pote Human had pointed to the breakdowns as an area where the Cell C Sharks dominated and produced massive gains, and his counterpart added his thoughts.
“I thought James Venter had a great debut, the stuff we’ve been working on in preseason came to the fore in the match and probably bailed us out. James is a specialist six and that’s why we brought him to The Sharks and it worked well for us. But generally all the guys put the Bulls’ breakdown under major pressure, whether it was slowing the ball down or counter-rucking and obviously stealing on the floor. So we’re happy with where we are on that and I think our defence complemented that as well.”
Another debutant, Sanele Nohamba scored the match-winning try when the game was balanced on a knife’s edge, although Everitt was quick to spread the praise for the score.
“Sanele is special. I’ve known him for many years, followed his rugby career at DHS and watched him with a smile when I had the opportunity to watch schoolboy rugby. But it was a team try, it wasn’t his brilliance – although he finished it off – it was a really good scrum from the bench that came on. We’ve worked on continuity and we kept the ball alive for Sanele to show his pace.”
In summation, the coach felt that minor concerns can be ironed out and that given time, the team will grow and grow.
“We want to be patient, we want to hold on to the ball , but that’s really difficult in the heat and humidity and at times we did take the wrong option which put us under pressure, but composure will come with time.