Quarter-Finals Beckon – Featured Durban Blog

Quarter-Finals Beckon:

It was real edge of your seat stuff as the Cell C Sharks secured a place in the knock-outs with a thrilling and highly competitive 12-9 Vodacom Super Rugby victory over the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday.

It was bravery to the death and when it mattered, the Cell C Sharks delivered the killer blow in a tense match that had so much riding on it.

The Cell C Sharks made a positive start to the game, spending three minutes with ball in hand, providing a strong build-up of close to 20 phases as we worked our way to the Stormers 22 before conceding a scrum. Although there was no reward, it was a lovely passage of play that showed how dangerous the team are when they show patience on attack.

It was a sign of things to come as the game shifted momentum from one side of the field to the next, both sides showing good intent on attack but neither finding the final gap in defence through which to strike the ultimate rugby blow.

It took until the 23rd minute of the game before the first score, the Stormers earning a penalty which was sent through the posts.

Although earlier patience on attack wasn’t rewarded, it was patience on defence that finally brought our first points, when we held out against a sustained effort from the Stormers and Rhyno Smith managed to get a foot on the ball and regather, sprinting 90m to the other tryline just about on the half hour mark.

The Stormers then lost hooker Bongi Mbonambi to a yellow card when he struck Louis Schreuder in the throat with an elbow. There was still nearly 10 minutes of the half remaining but the Stormers were able to withstand everything we threw at them in the final period of the first half to avoid more points against them.

The teams went into the half-time break with the visiting Cell C Sharks leading 5-3 and knowing that there wasn’t much different they needed to do but to close out the excellent work on attack.

The Stormers reverted back to their full complement of players early in the second half and were rewarded with a penalty for a dangerous tackle which was converted successfully to take them back into the lead, albeit by just one point.

There was a real element of test match rugby about this game, finals’ time even, given what the outcome of the match would provide for the winner – a top eight finish and a place in the knock-out rounds.

There was no element of conservative play, but certainly neither team wanted to make a mistake that could be to the ultimate cost and the second half offered very little in the way of scoring opportunities.

Going into the final five minutes of the game, a crucial scrum penalty to the Stormers saw them stretch the lead to four points with an unconverted try separating the Cell C Sharks from further progression in the competition.

It was Lukhanyo Am who had the last say, dancing inside the tackle to score the all-important try in the 82nd minute, but this was truly a team effort. It was exciting, clinical, effective and above all, patient, as the team struck the winning blow in the last passage of play to secure a place in next weekend’s quarter finals.

The post Quarter-Finals Beckon appeared first on Sharks Rugby.

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