The Business End – Featured Durban Blog

The Business End:

Vodacom Super Rugby has reached the knock-out stages with the Cell C Sharks traveling to Australia to take on the Brumbies in an exciting weekend of quarter-final action that features four sides from the South African Conference.

As New Zealand Conference winners, the Crusaders who also finished the regular season top of the log, will host the eighth-placed finishers, the Highlanders in the first quarter-final while the Jaguares who topped the South African Conference are rewarded with a home quarter against the Chiefs who finished in seventh spot. The New Zealanders had a slow start to the season, but finished with a flourish, winning their last three matches to gain qualification.

Both of those matches are on Friday with the second pair of quarterfinals taking place on Saturday. The fourth-placed Hurricanes will host the fifth-placed Bulls in Wellington with the Australian Conference winning Brumbies host the Cell C Sharks in the final clash of the weekend.

The Cell C Sharks have a good recent record against the Brumbies in Canberra, and while it has never been the easiest place to tour, wins for the Durban team in 2017 and 2012 provide a 50% success rate in the past four visits to the Australian capital.

In fact, the Cell C Sharks have always been amongst South Africa’s most successful tourists overseas and this year have achieved significant gains on the road, in Australia, New Zealand and around South Africa. Wins over the Lions and Stormers in Johannesburg and Cape Town were important results in the intra conference challenge, while victories over the Waratahs in Sydney and the Sunwolves in Singapore, together with a draw with the Crusaders in Christchurch all provided valuable log points, but above all, confidence in the team’s ability to win away from home.

The team has shown immense character when their backs were against the wall and the Stormers’ match, the final fixture of the pool stages, was a real do-or-die battle, a must-win match for the Cell C Sharks.

But when the chips were down, they stood up to the challenge and met it head on.

“There’s no doubt about the team’s character, they really showed it on Saturday,” said head coach Robert du Preez. “All the bad press this team and management have received recently was answered on the field.

“There’s no doubt in my mind, not for one minute that this team can progress in the competition. It’s a fantastic team and on any given day, we can beat any opposition.”

It wasn’t a high-scoring match but given the pressure on both sides and the importance of the outcome, it was never going to be flashy. The most important thing for the Cell C Sharks was to retain possession and in the last play of the game, delivered.

“The team showed self-believe in the match, to have kept the ball for 30 odd phases, that was amazing,” du Preez said. “We’ve spoken about a lack of patience on attack, but it came together right at the end.

“Afterwards I thanked the team for the self-belief they showed out there. For the character they showed, they were just tremendous. It was pretty special.”

Although the Cell C Sharks are without a few players for the quarter-final match, du Preez confirmed that should the team progress beyond this weekend, they could be bolstered.

“Akker van der Merwe and Philip van der Walt were touch and go for this match and should be available soon. But the guys who have stepped up have been outstanding.

“It’s a good squad with good depth.”

The post The Business End appeared first on Sharks Rugby.

FIDELITY ADT CLUB RUGBY COLUMN:

In a weekend of closely contested games in the Fidelity ADT Premier Division there was also a little heartache with Bidvest Insurance Crusaders seeing their match against SA Home Loans Durban Collegians slip out of their grasp in the dying moments of the game in Durban North last Friday evening.

Enjoying home ground advantage Crusaders found themselves trailing 12-6 with the minutes ticking away after the sides had been level pegging 3 all at halftime. The game itself might not have been an entertaining affair but it was certainly a hard enthralling encounter with Collegians deserving huge credit for their performance in defending their line.

Eventually almost 10 minutes into extra time after a handful of penalties against Collegians near their line, prop Sphephelo Mayaba crossed for the only try of the match giving Crusaders a sniff at a hard fought victory. The ecstatic Crusaders supporters excitement soon turned to heartache as Carl Meyer’s relatively easy conversion attempt went wide of the up post giving Collegians the 12-11 win.

For Crusaders center Meyer, who had kicked two earlier penalties, it must have been equally heartbreaking for him as he rarely misses a kick. Devon Lailvaux, on the other hand, playing at flyhalf on this occasion was successful with all four winning penalty goals for Collegians. This result now leaves College Rovers with a 13 point cushion on top of the log.

Across at Riverside Sport there was another hard fought game with Varsity College edging out Ethekwini Refractories Amanzimtoti 32-31 after leading 19-17 at the break. It was also an evening of heartache for the South Coast Terriers from Amanzimtoti with Varsity College scoring the winning try almost on time.

Up in the capital played in bitterly cold conditions at the Peter Booysen Stadium the visitors, College Rovers, went on the rampage with a clinical 12 try scoring spree thrashing FNB UKZN Maritzburg 80-0. For Rovers wing Charles Mayeza led the try scoring spree with three touchdowns together with their ever improving midfielder and backline player of the match Kyle Theron with two tries. The other tries came from the leagues top try scorer Sergio Torrens, Snakes Nyoka, Luvuyiso Lusaseni, Adam Wessels, Jason Kankowski and Mesuli Mncwango to go with a penalty try.

All 12 tries were converted with the kicks shared between Mondi Nkosi and Curtis Jonas with Sthembis ‘Stairs’ Mhlongo named forward of the match.

On Friday evening Durban Collegians will host UKZN Maritzburg and Crusaders will travel to Amanzimtoti. On Saturday afternoon College Rovers will entertain Standard Bank Richards Bay.

In the First Division South Section Drakensberg from Winterton are not finding it all easy playing in this league with all the travelling and went down 48-10 to home side UKZN Durban. In the other games Westville Old Boys hammered Ballito Dolphins 66-0 and Jaguar Land Rover Durban Hillcrest beat Maritzburg Collegians 50-24.

With that one wonders why Maritzburg Collegians and Voortrekker Old Boys don’t get together as the ‘Voories’ from Pietermaritzburg are playing as the second stringers to Drakensberg who lead the way in First Division Reserve league South Section.

The post FIDELITY ADT CLUB RUGBY COLUMN appeared first on Sharks Rugby.

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