Preview: Cell C Sharks vs Emirates Lions

The Cell C Sharks take on the Emirates Lions in a second round, return leg Vodacom Super Rugby derby clash at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Saturday hoping to emulate the first round performance and carry the momentum of the tour through to the final month of action.

In the first round match at Emirates Airline Park, the Cell C Sharks blew the Lions away in a near perfect performance, one that was clinical and merciless in the way the Lions were outplayed on the day.

The Lions won’t be caught again and the expectation must be that while revenge will not be a word thrown around too vocally, in the back of their players’ heads will be the desire to make up for that heavy loss.

The Cell C Sharks have shown great form, particularly on tour and the emergence of Curwin Bosch as a fully-fledged attacking flyhalf cannot be underestimated.

“Curwin has really played well, he’s a fantastic rugby player and we know what he can bring,” explained head coach Robert du Preez.

“I think the team really performed on tour, they got together and we saw some good results, apart from the last one. But that’s all behind us and we have a big challenge at home on Saturday.  We are going to have to be at our best to beat the Lions.”

With the log as congested as it is, with just a few points separating the top from the bottom sides in the South African Conference, there is everything to play for and an opportunity to finish in prime spot.

“I definitely think we can finish top of the log,” the coach said. “Three of our remaining four games are against teams in our conference so we know the importance of winning the next four matches.

“There are myriad permutations, we just have to take it one game at a time, starting with Saturday, then reset for the next one.”

What They Said:

“We became tight as a group on tour and I think that showed on the field. We backed up a happy tour with good performances and now it’s about continuing that.  We know what the log looks like, anything can happen but we’re focusing on ourselves and the game ahead. It’s an important one, a game we need to win. If we prepare well and perform then the log will take care of itself.”

  • Cell C Sharks captain Louis Schreuder

“For us, as a team, we need to come out firing in the first 20 minutes, show the right intent both for ourselves and our opponents, that we are here to put up a fight.”

  • Cell C Sharks prop Coenie Oosthuizen

“The Lions have been a little like us, a bit up and then down, a bit of inconsistency.”

  • Cell C Sharks centre Andre Esterhuizen

“We know it’s going to be physical, we know it’s going to be tough but we’re excited for the challenge. The team grew tight on tour and there’s a good vibe and energy in the camp.”

  • Cell C Sharks Assistant Coach Ricardo Loubscher

 

Team News:

Mzamo Majola gets a start due to numerous front row injuries, and a well-deserved one at that.

“Mzamo has been in our set-up all year and had a couple of opportunities off the bench and I’m really pleased for him,” said coach Robert du Preez. “He’s the ultimate team man who always gives everything at practice, always comes to work with a smile on a face and an inspiration for the guys around him. It’s wonderful for him to get a start.”

Meanwhile, 20 year old Dylan Richardson, a member of last year’s successful Cell C Sharks Under 19 side, is poised to make his senior debut at hooker.

“He’s a guy with awesome talent and I’m really excited to see how he goes,” said his coach. “He’s very physical and has a technical set to go with that; what a wonderful opportunity for him.”

 

Some History:

The Cell C Sharks have won their last two Super Rugby clashes with the Lions and shade our opponents in overall success in 22 meetings.

Makazole Mapimpi has scored three tries in his last three games against the Lions, including a double in the round one match in Joburg.

 

A Few Stats:

Clean Breaks*:

Cell C Sharks: 9.3 Lions: 10.2

Goal-kicking Percentage:

Cell C Sharks: 76% Lions: 75%

Offloads*:

Cell C Sharks: 8.5 Lions: 7.4

Penalties Conceded*:

Cell C Sharks: 8.3 Lions: 7.7

Tackle Percentage:

Cell C Sharks: 86% Lions: 83%

Lineout Success:

Cell C Sharks: 84% Lions: 90%

Scrum Success:

Cell C Sharks: 92% Lions: 92%

*Ave per game

 

Head to Head:

The two teams have met 22 times in Vodacom Super Rugby with the Cell C Sharks having won on 12 occasions and the Lions nine with one match drawn.

2017: Cell C Sharks 10-27 Lions

2017: Lions 23-21 Cell C Sharks

2017: Lions 26-19 Cell C Sharks

2018: Cell C Sharks 31-24 Lions

2019: Lions 5-42 Cell C Sharks

 

Match Info:

Referee:  Marius van der Westhuizen

Kick-off: Saturday 25 May

Time: 5.05pm

Venue: JONSSON KINGS PARK