On Track – Featured Durban Blog

On Track:

While the Cell C Sharks may have been pipped by just two points in our Superhero Sunday clash with the DHL Stormers, there were many highlights to take positives out of.

“We’re happy with the outcome of the game and what it produced,” explained Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt after the match. “This was a warm-up game for us – a practice match – and there were a lot of positives to take out.”

In particular, the Stormers pack, so highly-rated, was never able to exert pressure on the Cell C forwards who in fact managed a scrum penalty. The lineout work in training bore fruit and the driving maul delivered gains.

“I thought our set-piece functioned really well in the first half,” Everitt said. “As well as from an attack and defence point of view. Unfortunately from some really good maul defence we leaked a soft try and an opportunistic try in the second half.

“But I thought our defence was really good, we got off the line well.”

The art of fetching, where a player, often a flank, competes for the ball on the ground, hasn’t always received a lot of attention, but it is an area the Cell C Sharks have worked on, and the gains made proved invaluable in this match.

“The breakdown work that we’ve put a lot of work into during the off-season came to fruition.

“So we are happy, I don’t think we will take anything out of the result, it was three tries apiece and hopefully the spectators enjoyed it.”

The coach also agreed that the intensity from the players was commendable.

“We were very happy with the intensity shown, the conditions weren’t easy, to play at one o’clock up on the highveld coming from Durban is tough, but I thought our guys did well. When we changed the team and brought the guys off the bench, they also lifted the energy.

“As the game wore on we made a few mistakes, but there is no excuse for that because the guys were fresh.”

Assessing the squad available, he gave this a big thumbs up. In particular the returning Springboks who have added huge amounts of value, both at training and in this match.

“I’m very happy with the personnel we have and very happy with the individual performances out there. There is always a lot to work on when it comes to games, but certainly there were a lot more positives than negatives. The individuals put their hands up and we can see why certain players were in the World Cup Final – they shone out there and showed why they are World Cup champions.

“So we are very happy with that and the way the Springboks have come back and been so positive.” With this match being the last hit-out before the Cell C Sharks host the Vodacom Bulls in the opening Vodacom Super Rugby match of the 2020 season, Everitt added that, “Yes, I think we’re just about ready to go. We just need to polish a few things before the match, but we have two weeks for that.”

The post On Track appeared first on The Sharks.

Making His Mark:

24-year-old Ox Nche came to The Sharks from the Cheetahs late last year and can’t wait to get his teeth into Vodacom Super Rugby sporting a black and white jersey in 2020.

His pedigree suggests that Retshegofaditswe (his real name) has the ability to be a real force on the South African rugby landscape, having represented the country at SA Schools, SA Under 20, SA ‘A’ and Springbok level, but for now, his focus is on the Cell C Sharks and making a positive contribution to his new team.

“I’m enjoying everything here in Durban, although the downside is the weather, I’m not used to the heat and humidity yet, but otherwise I’m loving it here,” he explains.

“There was no specific reason for me leaving the Cheetahs, but I guess there comes a time for you to explore and see what else is out there,” he explains of his move. “The Cheetahs have been good to me and I enjoyed my time there, but I felt that it was time to make a move and explore new horizons.”

Vodacom Super Rugby is just around the corner, just two weeks away, and after a tough pre-season, he can’t wait to get stuck into the competition.

“I’m really excited, I have played Super Rugby before and I’ve learned a lot in the Pro 14, particularly the set-piece, but I am very excited to be playing Super Rugby again, it’s a special competition.”

Having played in both major competitions, arguably amongst the toughest in world rugby, he is able to discuss the vagaries of the two tournaments.

“In position-specific terms, they are different because the Pro 14 is much more set-piece orientated and it’s often the tight five and forwards getting the momentum and winning games whereas in Super Rugby, everyone gets a touch of the ball,” he points out.

“I’m really looking forward to that challenge, that’s why we play rugby: to compete against the best and get better ourselves. I’m excited!”

The style of play employed by the Cell C Sharks is something that attracted him to Durban in the first place and he believes his abilities and experience will fit in perfectly with head coach Sean Everitt’s rugby philosophy.

“The Sharks have always had a well-balanced game-plan where both the forwards and backs get to run with the ball; add to that a good kicking game and I feel that if we can dominate the opposition – the backs and forwards – then I think we’ll do pretty well,” he says.

The post Making His Mark appeared first on The Sharks.

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