The Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Blue Bulls will go head-to-head once more in what has become one of the country’s strongest rugby rivalries over the past year when they meet at Jonsson Kings Park on Friday evening.
It is fitting that the teams occupy the top two positions on the Carling Currie Cup log, giving credence to what should be a match filled with passion and energy.
Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt, reflecting on last week’s loss to Griquas, pointed out that there were learnings to take out of that game and the week spent in training rectifying them.
“It was an easy fix, I think we were a little bit naive to think we could run through a Griquas’ team with numbers down. It was a matter of understanding where the space was, which is on the edges and we never moved there. We only completed four of 24 entries in the gold zone so that was pretty poor from our side. As was the management of the game in the gold zone – there’s no other word for it.”
With three matches in 10 days (and four in 16 days), the Cell C Sharks face a testing period that will require all their resources, but also the ability to play winning rugby, starting against the Blue Bulls.
“Games against the Bulls are big matches, like any in the Currie Cup, teams like Griquas and the New Nation Pumas have done well against the big franchises, so there is no easy game in the competition. Yes, it’s a tough schedule for us, but we experienced that a short while ago when we had three games in a week.”
Everitt identified three pivotal facets of the game where it would be won and lost. Stopping the Blue Bulls’ momentum, being disciplined and dealing with their opponents’ power game.
“This game is really important for us against a side that have recruited well,” the coach explained. “They have a massive pack of forwards, so, like the Bulls of old, momentum is key. We need to get momentum on attack and we need to stop their momentum and power game.
“We also need to make sure that we keep our discipline and don’t give away unnecessary penalties that will lead to giving them opportunities with their driving maul.”
Everitt pointed out that the two teams have been evenly matched in recent games between them, but for a late surge from the Pretoria side and this is an area that has been addressed.
“The Bulls have got on top of us in the last 20 minutes in all the games we played, even though the matches were evenly contested by half time. The important thing is for us to focus on ourselves, focus on the job at hand and look to nullify their strengths.
“For us, it’s about performance and the Cell C Sharks putting in a vast improvement this weekend.”