With a full haul of 10 points from our opening two matches, the Cell C Sharks lead the South African Vodacom Super Rugby conference, as well as the overall log, a very good position to be in.
Head coach of the Cell C Sharks, Robert du Preez, was beaming after his team’s 26-7 defeat of the visiting Blues at JONSSON KINGS PARK on a hot and humid Saturday, typical of Durban’s February weather. He likened the intensity to a full-blown test match.
“Obviously, we’re very pleased with the five points, I thought the boys showed great courage out there,” he admitted.
“They really played for each other against a really good team, one that ran the Crusaders close. It was like a test match out there: tough and uncompromising.”
While it is still early days and the competition is not won in February, a good start was always going to be vital. The coaches spoke about avoiding having to play catch up rugby and fortunately – so far – this isn’t the case.
Although it was a wonderful team effort, there is always a Man of the Match award, this one going to wing Makazole Mapimpi. “It was well deserved, he was fantastic and he communicates so well on the park,” said du Preez. “He was unbelievable and I’m really pleased for him.”
Although Sbu Nkosi left the field in the first half with a suspected neck injury, the coach gave some reassurance that it was not as bad as it originally appeared.
“He looks ok. He had some pins and needles in his arm, but I think he’s going to be alright.”
Despite the positives of scoring four tries, limiting a very dangerous New Zealand outfit to just one (and keeping them scoreless for over an hour), du Preez explained that it didn’t all go in our favour.
“There are ebbs and flows in a game. I thought we had lots of opportunities and we should have converted those. In saying that, we were playing a quality side who really put us under pressure.”
But the team enjoyed a well-deserved celebration for a job very well done as they now regroup.
“For us, it’s all about proper recovery now because there are lots of bumps and bruises out there, it was one heck of a physical game. Apart from Sbu Nkosi, we came out unscathed.”
He outlined areas of improvement that the team will look to work on, despite the successes.
“We’re very pleased with where the team is at right now. To get five points at home is invaluable but we want to keep growing; for us it’s really important that we do well at home.
“We just want to get better, we haven’t seen the best from this team, that’s for sure. There’s still a lot to come.”
The Cell C Sharks host the Stormers on Saturday in Vodacom Super Rugby week three action at Jonsson KINGS PARK and what a game this should be. After losing heavily to the Bulls in the opening round, the Cape side came from behind to score a last gasp two-point win over the Lions on Saturday and should pose formidable opposition.