Valiant Effort

In an entertaining and physically confrontational Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash, Glasgow Warriors ran out 35-24 victors over the Cell C Sharks on Saturday afternoon. While the result didn’t go the way of the Durban side, it was an intense game of rugby where neither side gave an inch.

Kudos to the Scots, there can be no denying the fact that they were deserved winners and there should be no shame in losing to one of the most successful teams in recent years, Pro12 champions in 2015, Pro14 finalists in 2014 and 2019 and finding themselves near full strength, at home on their artificial turf, completely foreign to the Cell C Sharks.

This is a young Cell C Sharks team, missing six front-line players from the Springboks’ starting line-up in their win against the All Blacks and a number of others either on national duty or out injured, and can only benefit from this experience. A strong second half fightback with the Cell C Sharks playing some scintillating rugby, proved that they were worthy competitors.

For the South African sides, starting the tournament with a four match overseas tour and without their internationals playing against full-strength European sides, this has been a difficult start to the tournament.

The match couldn’t have started off on a more difficult note, the home side scoring inside the second minute after a good breakout from their 22 and then putting the pressure on in the Cell C Sharks’ 22 to score under the posts for a 7-nil lead.

The Warriors continued to hammer away the line, showing good game management, calmness amongst the frenetic play and after a patient build-up during which a succession of penalties on defence led to a yellow card, a man down, the Cell C Sharks conceded a second try.

Having barely seen a sniff of the ball, the Cell C Sharks were under pressure once more from a Glasgow team who were unrelenting in their play, making small gains that inexorably took them closer and closer before the inevitable pick-and-drive phase play that led to their third try as the game hit the end of the first quarter.

The Cell C Sharks responded almost immediately, getting good possession and then showing ferocity in their finishing, Le Roux Roets driven over with Curwin Bosch converting.

Glasgow’s bonus point try, in the 35thminute, was spectacular as it was ordered, once again showing patience while injecting irrepressible tempo into their attack to score their fourth try as the game neared the halfway point.

A penalty from Bosch after a strong scrum effort in the final play helped to reduce the deficit to 28-10 at half-time.

Warriors were again first to score, a penalty kicked to the line and then sent wide across the width of the pitch for their fifth try but there wouldn’t be any further points until the end of the third quarter when the Cell C Sharks showed their own brand of patience and electric attack, with Thomas du Toit finishing off an excellent effort which Bosch converted.

The Cell C Sharks played their best rugby of the tournament in the final 15 minutes of the game, injecting pace and brutal confrontational physicality in their drive for another score. It really was sensational play and with Glasgow pushing the boundaries of discipline, finally found themselves a man down to a yellow card for repeated infringements.

The reward came with a series of close-quarter pick-and-drives before Nthuthuko Mchunu powered over for the inevitable try, the successful conversion the last score of the game.