The Cell C Sharks will know what is necessary in defence of the Currie Cup title won last year following a first-round loss to Griquas at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Friday evening.
In his assessment of the match, Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt felt that it was a match when pretty much everything went wrong for his team.
“We can look at the players’ effort and there were some guys who really put their hands up, but we have to admit that Griquas totally outplayed us in every facet of the game. They were better than us at lineout time, scored two great maul tries, they beat us on the ground, they put us under pressure at scrum time which forced us to give away penalties; so there wasn’t much that went our way.”
Everitt refused to use the excuse that Griquas were a team that had been together without disruption for the whole year, starting with a successful SuperSport Challenge campaign and taking continuity into the Currie Cup, while the Cell C Sharks had lost players to the Springboks and to new overseas contracts and had only come together a week before this match.
“Our group has been together,” he admitted, “so that’s not an excuse for us. There were two youngsters who came off the bench, both of whom were involved in the Super Rugby pre-season and there are guys who played against Griquas with Super Rugby experience who would have liked more opportunities, so there was obviously motivation from their side to perform.
“But collectively as a whole, we were poor.”
He pointed to moments of brilliance which were spoilt by individual errors that broke attacking continuity which meant they weren’t able to capitalise on the opportunities created.
“We weren’t able to put the ball through the phases, it was due to a lot of handling mistakes, we had opportunities in the first half and they capitalised on a poor offload in their 22 and we ended up defending in our 22. Then you give away penalties and get caught down in your half and you can’t get yourself into a position to score points and I think that was the problem for us.
“Execution let us down.”
While it is easy to feel demoralised, Everitt would have recalled the 2013 season in which the Cell C Sharks also lost, at home, to Griquas, also in the first round. We closed out that season defeating the favourites, Western Province, in the final in Cape Town.
“Although we need to have a good hard look at ourselves, it’s not the end of the world,” he said
“We got together last Friday and we’ve been in this situation before. But it is a big wake-up call for us all and we all take responsibility for that. We will certainly work harder to put in a much better and improved performance against Western Province.”
Everitt also added that Griquas deserved praise for their success. “Credit must go to Griquas, they were clinical against us. I said before the game that they’re a well-coached team and we did our homework on them but they came to Durban and handled the conditions better than we did.
“I’m sure Griquas will turn a few more teams over, especially in Kimberley.”
Although a first-round loss is a huge disappointment for the side, Everitt admitted that the challenge for this group of players is how they react.
“I haven’t been involved with this team for two years now, but I know that history has shown us that when the Cell C Sharks are down, they always bounce back. But we have to have a big bounce back against Western Province.
“We’re not down and out in this Currie Cup, but we need to come back on Monday and work really hard towards what we want to achieve.”