Making a Contribution

The returning Springboks certainly played a big role in the Cell C Sharks’ powerful Vodacom United Rugby Championship victory over Glasgow Warriors at Hollywoodbets Kings Park on Saturday.

The were contributions from debutants Eben Etzebeth who won a deserved man of the match award in his first outing in the Black & White jersey and Vincent Tshituka, along with Jaden Hendrikse who all started.

Then, when the game needed the tempo to climb in the second half, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and front rowers Bongo Mbonambi and Ox Nche all raised their hands and helped to deliver the knock-out punch that wrestled the game away from the Scots and earned the Cell C Sharks an important bonus point victory.

Discussing his unaccustomed role off the bench, Cell C Sharks flank Siya Kolisi admitted that it was just about being on the field and, along with his fellow Boks, playing his part.

“We were excited, we were just happy to be back and join this group after what the boys did on tour,” he explained.

“We just wanted to add value after a week off [after the Springbok commitments] and then a week of integration with the squad which was good and I really enjoyed the game.

“Coming off the bench we knew there was still a lot to do, we had to bring the energy and we were able to get some good carries, Bongi and Ox getting stuck in and Eben from the beginning; they all brought the physicality we needed in the group.

“Whatever role we have to play coming in and fitting in with the group is something we will happily take because it’s not about us at the end of the day, but the Cell C Sharks.”

The next challenge to negotiate is the arrival of Ulster to Hollywoodbets Kings Park this weekend. The Irish side are one of the top teams in the competition and their second place on the log adequately underlines the danger they pose.

There was a lot the Cell C Sharks got right last weekend, but Kolisi did identify the set-piece battle as one his team would like to really perform well in.

“The set-piece is going to be very important because Ulster have a strong pack and they use their maul effectively,” he acknowledged.

“They also target the scrum as an area to force penalties and it’s somewhere we do want to improve. We gave away one penalty, got one back and earned a tighthead last week so we’re going to have to be really strong in the scrums and mauls. They’re also very good at the breakdown with their loose-forwards.

“In general, they’re a gain-line team, they want to get over the gain-line, so the contact area is going to be important.

“But we have a good pack too, experienced guys who know they need to stand up each weekend. We know there’s no place to hide so we need to go flat out and every one of us needs to make sure he’s up for the challenge and set the standard from the word go.”

From a Cell C Sharks perspective, he admitted that game management would be vital.

“We need to manage things well and play in the right areas, but when there are opportunities, we are definitely going to go for it.”