The Ideal Start – Featured Durban Blog

The Ideal Start:

The Cell C Sharks got our Vodacom Super Rugby campaign off to a winning start, a dominant performance ensuring a 45-10 defeat of the Sunwolves at Singapore National Stadium on Saturday.

Although there was an early threat from the Sunwolves who attacked and defended with frenzy, they proved to be no match for the physical threat from the Cell C Sharks, particularly at scrum time when we decimated the hosts, pressured them, and then punished.

The Sunwolves looked to inject a high-paced intensity into the game, hoping to run the Cell C Sharks ragged from the start in tough conditions, but an early mistake from the hosts on attack gave us the impetus to take the ball forward from where a penalty saw Robert du Preez put the first points on the board inside the opening five minutes.

We took the ball through numerous phases straight afterwards in the search for a second score, but all credit to the Sunwolves who defended with vigour and energy. One such effort forced a knock-on and from the resultant scrum, the Sunwolves kicked ahead and a good chase saw them scoring the first try of the match before the clock had stuck 10 minutes.

The speed with which the Sunwolves were playing continued to pay dividends as turn-over ball in their 22 was sent down the touchline in a good counter attack before earning a penalty that took them into a 10-3 lead a few minutes later.

However, you can’t keep a good side down long and directly from the kick-off, the Sunwolves conceded a penalty, we kicked to touch and from the lineout, the rolling maul was set too well and with too much determination from Akker van der Merwe, there was no stopping his momentum. Du Preez equalised with the conversion.

With all the speed the Sunwolves were bringing to the game, it was in the physicality stakes where they were being shown up. After conceding a number of scrum penalties, the hosts were finding themselves under more and more pressure before another strong drive from an attacking lineout saw Daniel du Preez stretch over from close quarters and score our second try, converted by his brother Robert for a 17-10 lead five minutes before half-time.

The third try, moments later, was truly a thing of beauty as the forwards did their job at scrum time in midfield, before a lovely set move saw Sbu Nkosi racing down the touchline, too quick for the cover defence. A great conversion from out wide took us into a 14 point lead.

The Sunwolves had a last gasp opportunity to score before half-time, but a lineout steal and then clearance allowed the Cell C Sharks to avert danger and with three-quarters of the territory in our favour, take a well-earned 24-10 lead into the break.

Makazole Mapimpi scored the bonus point try in the 46th minute following a lovely mini break from loose forward Tyler Paul, and with Robert du Preez maintaining his 100% kicking rate with the touchline conversion, there was some distance between the Cell C Sharks and Sunwolves.

Having conceded penalty after penalty, the Sunwolves found themselves down to 14 men on the hour, their forwards not able to cope at scrums and the mauls. Conceding 15 penalties to our four, the Sunwolves were doing themselves no favours. The fifth try came courtesy of yet another penalty, kicked to the corner and then from the lineout, Akker van der Merwe repeated his earlier effort. Du Preez converted and the Sunwolves were dead and buried.

To their credit, the hosts did come close to scoring their second try as they injected some energy into a rare opportunity, before losing the ball over the tryline. It presented the Cell C Sharks with a chance to build momentum, and boy did we.

A long period of possession was finally closed out, Jeremy Ward on for Andre Esterhuizen, scoring his first try of the season. Rhyno Smith, on for Robert du Preez converted for a 45-10 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining, and the half century beckoning.

Although there was no more scoring, the Sunwolves did enjoy some possession during the closing period of the game, but our defence stood the test.

It might be clichéd to say that victory is built around a platform, but this is an adage that needs to be used in this game. The Cell C Sharks forwards must be paid a great tribute for their efforts and dominance in setting up a comprehensive victory.

The post The Ideal Start appeared first on Sharks Rugby.

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