Energy off the Bench

The Cell C Sharks withstood everything the Emirates Lions threw at them in the first half of their Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash on Saturday, and then used the energy of the bench to blow the home team away.

Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell, reflecting on his team’s 29-7 bonus point victory, paid tribute to the direction his play-maker gave the team, and then the outstanding effort off the bench later in the game when the result was still in the balance.

“At times, good character was shown, but it was not as clinical a performance as we would have liked, hopwever the rain made the ball greasy and difficult to handle and we couldn’t hit maximum momentum.

“We managed the game a lot better in the second half, especially Curwin [Bosch]. Those long kicks to the corner and pinning them in their 22 were very effective.

“It took us a while to adjust to the rain and the slippery conditions, but a lot better performance in the second half.”

A comprehensive victory notwithstanding, Powell did feel that the game could have been managed better, adding that, “The issues were not good decisions at times; for example we would take the more difficult lineout option rather than the easy one and then lose it. Decision-making is something we will address and hopefully we’ll get that right going forward.”

Curwin Bosch’s contribution was immense, not only in his try and kicking for posts, but just the way he executed his role as the midfield general.

“He’s done well for us this season and he showed especially in that second half how well he managed the game with the boot, he puts good performances together and it’s great if you can rely on your 10 to manage the game as he did.” 

Of the bench, Powell was full of praise. “There was a risk going into the game with a  6-2 split on the bench, but it definitely paid off for us.  Our aim was for the players coming off the bench to lift the energy and they did just that. We selected that specific bench because we needed guys who would come onto the field and finish the game for us in the last 20-30 minutes.

“Vincent Tshituka and Dylan Richardson were back from injury, having Sikhumbuzo Notshe there too was also great. And then a young front row who certainly contributed. Those guys came onto the field and really made a difference.”

The bonus point win was vital at this stage and sets the team up nicely for the final run of games heading into the knock-out stages. But Powell admitted that it is important to keep the momentum going.

“We’re very happy with the result and five points, we’ve missed a few of those, especially in Durban, so happy that we managed to do it in this game. It is important that we take this momentum forward and although the outcome was good, there was a lot we didn’t do well, decision-making in particular and at times it looked like we lacked a bit of effort.

“We would like to show that fight and character every game, hopefully we can enjoy some continuity going forward.

“We will look to make a step up against Ulster and hopefully we can get a positive result out of that game.”