Back on Track – Featured Durban Blog

Back on Track:

Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez was pleased with his team’s showing in the Vodacom Super Rugby defeat of the Rebels at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Saturday, the victory important to the team’s goals.

“We needed to get our campaign back on track, it was a tough week for the boys after the loss to the Vodacom Bulls and by coming back as we did was great,” he said after the match.

“We had a brilliant week in training, the boys really dug deep, there was a lot of introspection from a number of individuals, so I was very pleased with the response; I’m very happy with the win.

“We had a good start and ended well, that’s what we asked for. In the first 20 minutes I thought we played really well and then finished well; that’s pleasing.”

Du Preez also mentioned discipline as a key area in determining the win. The Rebels once again conceded too many penalties for the second week in row, both contributing to their own demise.

“Discipline and giving away penalties were crucial. Penalties slow down your momentum and in the first 20 minutes we conceded maybe one penalty.”

Mentally, this game saw the shift needed from the Cell C Sharks as they put in a dominant performance and then blew the Rebels out the game with a commanding second half effort that saw us hold the visitors scoreless in the second 40 minutes.

“There was a big step from the boys after that loss,” said du Preez. “Especially in the second half when we did so much better than the first half when we were a bit tentative.

“The message at half-time was that we needed to be more assertive in terms of our decision-making and to keep the ball a lot more through the phases and we accomplished that.

“The strength of this team is when we keep the ball through multiple phases, then we’re really dangerous. However, there were a couple of times when we kicked the ball away, so that’s something we need to work on.”

The Cell C Sharks will be hosting the Vodacom Bulls at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Saturday in our return leg Vodacom Super Rugby clash, and du Preez admitted that the expectation is of another huge contest.

After beating three South African opponents in local derbies, the Pretoria side suffered a significant setback to their competition aspirations when they lost 56-20 at Loftus on the weekend.

“They suffered a heavy defeat against the Chiefs so we expect a backlash from them after that loss, they’re a proud team.”

The state of the competition is in flux right now. A Vodacom Bulls home loss to a side that has struggled this season was an anomaly, as was the previously undefeated Crusaders going down to the Waratahs. There have been many such upsets to date.

“That just goes to show that if you’re off your game, anything can happen on the day,” the coach explained. “You have to be on top of your game every match, week in and week out.”

That goes for winning at home.

“If you want to be a force in this competition, you have to win your home games. We’ve lost one already, we don’t want to lose again.”

The coach confirmed that Craig Burden would, along with Philip van der Walt, probably be in contention for selection this week.

The post Back on Track appeared first on Sharks Rugby.

Sharks Clinical in Victory:

The Cell C Sharks inflicted a second successive South African defeat on the traveling Rebels in a tight Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Jonsson KINGS PARK on Saturday, coming out 28-14 victors in a tense but enjoyable match.

Like last week, the Rebels were made to pay for their indiscipline as regular penalties kept breaking any momentum they tried to build and the pressure we exerted on the visitors paid frequent dividends. That and a high error rate broke any momentum the Australians might have built.

It was a great start for the Cell C Sharks who kicked off and after the Rebels tried unsuccessfully to get out of their danger zone, we hammered away at their defence, earned a couple of penalties that were kicked to touch and eventually Dan du Preez was just too difficult to stop from close quarters as he smashed his way over, his brother Robert adding the two inside the opening 10 minutes.

Pressure on the Rebels saw them fluff their lines a couple of times to stymie their efforts and then a dominant scrum allowed the cell C Sharks to capitalise on the pressure we were exerting for a kickable scrum penalty, this time sent through the posts for three points for a 10-nil lead as the game approached the end of the first quarter.

Sadly the Rebels cantered in for a soft try after capitalising on an unnecessary penalty which they kicked to touch and somehow found numbers out wide for a simple run-in that flyhalf Quade Cooper was able to convert to reduce the deficit to three points.

With the game headed for the half hour mark, du Preez added a second three-pointer after the Rebels were penalised defending their goal line, but once again they found themselves in possession and managed a well-crafted, converted try with some deft passes that allowed the visitors to take the lead for the first time in the match.

The seventh penalty conceded by the Rebels (to our two) allowed du Preez to take us back into the lead as he maintained his 100% record with the boot with half-time beckoning and another two penalties later (their ninth) saw the visitors almost further punished for their indiscipline but for the conversion attempt narrowly going wide in the final play of the half, allowing us to go into the changerooms with a 16-14 lead.

The Rebels started the second half with fire in their bellies, intent on producing something to take reward from, but despite camping in our 22, our defence was resolute, waiting for the mistake which eventually came and we were able to release the pressure.

Action went to the other side of the field but we were way more composed and deadly, the Rebels having no counter as the defence got sucked into the middle and a long pass found Robert du Preez unmarked as he was able to score without a defender near him. His conversion took us into a 23-14 lead with less than half an hour’s play remaining.

With the Rebels under the cosh, the third Cell C Sharks try was inevitable as we pushed hard, failed initially but then pressured them into conceding the try that took us further ahead, a solid scrum and a great set move for Andre Esterhuizen to suck in the defence before feeding a flying Makazole Mapimpi who was over in the corner.

The stats were telling. The Rebels had a poorer tackle completion rate and gave away many more penalties while their ball handling was unconvincing and detrimental to their hopes.

The game went through a lull as both sides struggled with the slippery ball, the Durban humidity playing its part, but the Rebels were truly battling to hold on and gifted an opportunity that would have been a wonderful try for Mapimpi, only for the referee to call play back to a dangerous tackle that earned Marius Louw a yellow card.

Down to 14 men with a little over five minutes of the match remaining meant there would be pressure on the Cell C Sharks but the visitors too had a huge hurdle to overcome. But the handling error count was mounting, 21 from the Rebels to the Cell C Sharks five, the home side clearly enjoying the advantage of home town conditions.

Ultimately it was a commanding performance, a clinical one that has breathed life into our Vodacom Super Rugby campaign and an important response at this important juncture.

The post Sharks Clinical in Victory appeared first on Sharks Rugby.

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