The Cell C Sharks are back home after a gruelling three-week Vodacom Super Rugby tour of Australia and New Zealand and will now enjoy a week’s break before the next game, at home to the Hurricanes.
The final match didn’t quite deliver the result the team was hoping for, but off the back of two excellent performances against the Waratahs (a win) and the Crusaders (a draw), came agonisingly close to defeating the Chiefs in what would have been an historic, unbeaten tour.
The Chiefs left it late, but true to the attacking mindset that they are renowned for, managed to strike twice late in the game and overhaul our lead to secure what had appeared to be an unlikely victory.
Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez was dispirited following the game, but paid tribute to the team’s commitment and energy.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the result of the match but there’s no faulting the boys’ effort out there,” he said afterwards.
In a match where the lead changed hands frequently, where the Chiefs took the early lead but then through a combination of poor discipline (including a yellow card when they conceded 10 unanswered points) gave up a 17-13 half-time lead to trail 17-23, the match was all about taking chances and closing out opportunities.
The Chiefs managed two quick strikes late in the game to wrest control and take a 29-23 lead which they managed to hold on to for the win.
Although known as a running side, they also gave the ball a lot of air which was a tactic du Preez felt worked well for them.
“I thought their kicking game was really good,” he admitted. “They kicked well when they did kick and we struggled a bit to handle that.”
Ultimately the Chiefs managed to outscore us in the try count and that proved to be the difference in the end.
“They scored four tries which is hard to argue against,” du Preez concluded.
The Cell C Sharks will now head into the second bye of the tournament earning a well-deserved break after three weeks on the road and a total of eight games on the trot.
Hosting the Emirates Lions at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Saturday 25 May before the last home game of the pool stages against the visiting Hurricanes.
Away games against the Jaguares and then the Stormers close out the regular season before the play-offs.
The Cell C Sharks currently sit in third spot on the overall log, behind the table-topping Crusaders and Brumbies in second, with a big month of rugby left ahead.