A Testing Victory

The Cell C Sharks come out of their bonus point Currie Cup victory over the Airlink Pumas with the acknowledgement that while they found a way to dig deep and win a game that looked beyond reach, they know there is more in the tank.

Cell C Sharks Currie Cup head coach Joey Mongalo said as much afterwards, citing the spirit and commitment shown in the dying minutes of the game as his team wrestled a 22-10 deficit into a 24-22 victory.

“I think the fight in the last 10 minutes was the one highlight we can take out of this game,” he admitted. “Outside of that, there probably isn’t much. But we are thankful, the team spirit was good after the game and we encouraged the guys to enjoy themselves afterwards.”

While there is no denying how important the result was, Mongalo felt that there were areas of concern.

“We said in the changerooms afterwards that we have high standards, so we’re disappointed performance-wise, but grateful for the result and the character to fight. But on the rugby side, we have so much work still to do before we play Free State.

“In saying that, the team is growing in cohesion, even when they don’t play well.”

The Pumas played the percentages well, opting for three pointers when they could have gone for the corner kick and lineout maul option. Although the Cell C Sharks struck first blood with an early try, the home side managed to build scoreboard pressure to the point where they appeared to have done enough to secure victory.

“We must give the Pumas credit, I thought they fought incredibly hard and although that red card probably set them back, they never stopped fighting, so kudos to them.”

Ultimately, for a team that sets high standards, for Mongalo, it’s important that these are followed.

“It’s not about playing to potential, what we get wrong is when we play off script. We said there were two non-negotiables for this team: one is staying on script and the other is giving effort. If you don’t give those two, it’s not great, and that was part of our post match chat.

“We now face the Free State Cheetahs, the log leaders and a very good team, and the return ‘test match’ against them. They will still be hurting from the last time we played them, so we expect absolutely no favours from them.

“But the way the Pumas played has given guys hope with finding creative ways to impose ourselves on whoever we play going forward.”

Friday’s clash against current log leaders Toyota Free State kicks of at 7pm at Hollywoodbets Kings Park.