Match Preview

After last week’s bye, the next match in Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked beckons for the Cell C Sharks and what a prospect when they head up to Loftus Versfeld to take on the Vodacom Bulls in what should be a highly-charged clash between two sides with plenty of history between them.

Looking ahead to the match, Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt admitted that the return to action of three players from injury was certainly a bonus for the team although there hasn’t been much adjustment to the personnel that did proud duty in seeing off the Emirates Lions two weeks ago.

“There haven’t been too many changes, although Sbu Nkosi back on the right wing is a notable addition,” said the coach. “It’s good to have him back, we’re very excited about that and he brings a lot of energy and plenty of experience having been at the Rugby World Cup last year. He’s dangerous, very good under the high ball but more importantly, brings a lot of leadership to the group and the youngsters in the team really look up to him.”

Sbu Nkosi is definitely an important weapon in the Cell C Sharks’ arsenal, but so too a newcomer in Yaw Penxe who is currently on loan with the Durban franchise.

“Yaw is a very dangerous rugby player, whether at fullback or wing. He’s a strong runner, very quick and very abrasive and he’ll cover wing and fullback off the bench. He had a very good game for the Green team and was certainly on form for the Kings over the last 18 months; we’re very happy to have him here.”

The last meeting between the sides was the first hit-out in six months, but Saturday’s match is all about log points now and that takes on a completely different hue.

“This match has a different mindset,” Everitt emphasized. “30 days ago we took a squad of 30 to Loftus to have a look at combinations and to have a look at some youngsters who have shown progress this year, to measure and see where they were, but we’re back to business now with a settled squad.

“Lessons were learned out of that Super Fan Saturday and this is an entirely new ball game.”

The coach also admitted that while the aim was to return to the same style of exciting, open running rugby shown during the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament, it wasn’t going to be a seamless transition after a six month lay-off.

“Sometimes rhythm does take time,” he said. “Unfortunately we have had a start-stop return with Super Fan Saturday, then a bye when the Green and Gold game was played, then the Lions’ game, then another bye. But it was a timely break and helped us get players back from injury so we’ve taken that with a smile.”

The Bulls under Jake White are a dangerous prospect but Everitt admitted that in the previous game between the sides, the Cell C Sharks didn’t execute as they wanted to. Nevertheless even an improved Sharks side will have their work cut out for them.

“When we played them in the friendly warm-up match, we turned the ball over a lot in our kicking game and they were really good with try-scoring opportunities from counter-attack and turnovers from our errors,” he explained.

“We can see in the players he’s recruited that he relies strongly on his set-piece and to win that battle to gain advantage, so it’s important for us to at least get parity in the set-piece contest.

“We are looking forward to putting on display what we showed we’re capable of in Super Rugby. It’s a performance we’re expecting this weekend because there’s no time in a one round competition to wait for a team to hit form.

“I’ve always said that the team that hits the ground running will certainly reap the rewards in terms of winning trophies. Hopefully we’ll see that spectacle on Saturday night.”