The Cell C Sharks made it a double when they defeated the Highlanders in the first tour match to maintain 100% success in Vodacom Super Rugby this season.
At the conclusion of the second week, just four sides remain unbeaten, two from the South African Conference – the Cell C Sharks (8 points) and the DHL Stormers (9 points), along with the Brumbies from Australia and the Chiefs from New Zealand with the Cell C Sharks boasting the second best record in the competition to date.
Five tries to three and three is an emphatic statement while in a hugely productive and exciting final 10 minutes of the first half allowed the team to build what would be an unassailable 27-3 half-time lead before shutting the Highlanders out in the second half.
The Highlanders were shell-shocked going into the changerooms at the break, although, to their credit, came out firing in the second half, but were never going to pose a threat to our lead.
Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt was thrilled with the result afterwards, saying: “I’m very happy with our performance.
“We played with plenty of energy and I thought the guys showed a lot of courage and guts in the first half. We were in an arm wrestle for the opening quarter but our players stuck to the task and were rewarded when the game started opening up later in the half.”
The Highlanders had struck first blood with a penalty, but were left chasing a game that just got away from them courtesy of some fine finishing.
“We managed to score some good tries and that allowed us to go into half-time with a strong lead,” he said. “I also thought our defence in the first half was outstanding and that shows how much energy there is in this team.
“Even when the Highlanders created opportunities, the players scrambled and closed them down to prevent them from scoring anything more than that solitary penalty.”
It’s still early days, but when you’re near the top of the log, things look much rosier than having to chase the pack and that’s a huge positive for Everitt.
“I’m very happy with where things are at the moment, although we have a new team, the players are learning very quickly. And that’s the sign of a successful side.
“There’s a lot of energy in the group, the guys have toured well and this is a happy team.”
Although there was much to praise, Everitt did admit that the team is still a work in progress.
“We are looking to improve from week to week, but we are very happy with the outcome of this game.”
The Cell C Sharks travel to Wellington to take on the Hurricanes on Saturday morning in what should be a very interesting game. The Hurricanes failed to score in their round one loss to the Stormers, but struck a blow in Argentina when they narrowly defeated the Jaguares – last year’s losing finalists – in the early hours of Sunday morning and will have the travel factor back to New Zealand to contend with.
Unfortunately, the Cell C Sharks will be without Sbu Nkosi who has a torn right hamstring and has returned home. Marius Louw will now join the team ahead of this week’s game.
Saturday’s second tour match between the Hurricanes and Cell C Sharks kicks off at 8am CAT.