Fighting until the End

The Cell C Sharks’ fightback against the DHL Stormers in their tense Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash on Saturday came agonisingly close to being a satisfying away win.

Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell felt for his players who had fought their way back into the game and came agonisingly close to winning.

“There was a lot of effort out there and for the team, I wish they’d got a better result than the one they did, they deserved that. It was an opportunity, we were in the game in the last eight minutes, but one or two mistakes from individuals prevented us from getting on top of them and score the final blow that would have won the game. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.”

Reflecting on the period of the game when the Stormers were down to 13 men and the Cell C Sharks had fought back from a perilous position to one where they could have forced a result in their favour, Powell said, “Inaccuracies at the end, not accurate enough in those eight minutes.

“We got on top of them, we played the game with patience and waited patiently to get them on the back foot and then try to stay on top of them. Just inaccuracies that prevented us from getting out of our half and then the pressure was back on us.

“The guys showed a lot of confidence out there, but just individual inaccuracies. In the first half there was a lot of ill-discipline that put us on the back foot, we know that the Stormers are a team that feed off your mistakes and that’s how they scored their first three tries.

“The it becomes difficult playing catch-up rugby.”

The half-time break signalled an opportunity to right the ship and that was exactly what happened in a game of two halves.

“At half-time we told the guys not to go into the catch-up game, to keep believing in the plan we’d put out for them and just be disciplined and stick to the plan. The guys did and that showed in the second half.

“I don’t think it’s a confidence thing, the guys are starting to believe that they are good enough as a team to come to a Cape Town and put the Stormers away. The guys can only play what we’ve set out for them to play, one can say they should perhaps have kept the ball in hand, they know exactly how we want to play and they stuck to that in the second half.

“They played the way we wanted them to play in the second half a lot better.”

The URC now takes a break and the Cell C Sharks are back in action in week 16, traveling to Wales to take on the Scarletts and with three matches left in the pool stages, Powell admitted that there is plenty to fight for.

“It now becomes a win-at-all-costs scenario,” he said. “Going to Wales and getting a result against Scarletts will be tough, although we will have the services of our Boks for that game. But it does get tricky playing away and then coming back home to play the Round of 16 against Munster.

“We have a bit of a break now and plan how we’re going to approach these two games and make sure we get it right on the day.”