Rugby news from KwaZulu-Natal:
The Cell C Sharks will close out the pool stages of this year’s Currie Cup competition when we host Western Province at Growthpoint KINGS PARK this Saturday afternoon (3pm) seeking a commanding performance before the play-offs.
With home ground advantage for next weekend’s semi-final already all sewn up, the Cell C Sharks don’t need a result to maintain our status as log leaders, but not pitching up would put a dent on our team’s progress.
All season, the refrain coming from the camp has been to improve each week, and given a remarkable run of 10 straight victories, an 11th would do confidence the world of good before next week’s semi-final. Not to mention maintaining continuity and momentum.
Western Province come into this match having suffered an unexpected 29-20 defeat to the Lions last week which has put into jeopardy not only hosting a semi-final as runner-up in the pool stages, but the very real threat that a loss could knock them out of the next round completely.
There is no resting players or rotation or any changes made that would suggest head coach Robert du Preez is taking this match lightly, regardless of the fact that no other team can usurp our position on the log.
Lukhanyo Am returns from injury to take his place at centre, with Tristan Blewett shifting to the bench, in the only change to the team that defeated the Lions two weeks ago.
On the bench, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Jean-Luc du Preez return from Springbok commitments, while Louis Schreuder is back after missing the Lions match, due to a family reasons and Kobus van Wyk is over the injury that side-lined him.
“The last thing you want to do is go into a semi-final having lost the last game, but for us, winning isn’t all we’re focussing on, but rather, getting better from two weeks ago when we played the Lions,” explains wing Odwa Ndungane of the fact that the Cell C Sharks will not be letting up the intensity this weekend.
“We want to make sure we keep improving. We already have a guaranteed home semi-final, so there isn’t any pressure on us this weekend, but we want to go out and play well, to keep improving.”
|The Cell C Sharks
|1||Thomas du Toit||16||Chiliboy Ralepelle|
|2||Franco Marais||17||Juan Schoeman|
|3||Ross Geldenhuys||18||Jean Droste|
|4||Tyler Paul||19||Jean-Luc du Preez|
|5||Ruan Botha (Captain)||20||Louis Schreuder|
|6||Keegan Daniel||21||Tristan Blewett|
|7||Jacques Vermeulen||22||Kobus van Wyk|
|8||Daniel du Preez|
WEDNESDAY COLUMN CLUB RUGBY:
Sometimes decisions in rugby games can be harsh if not really cruel. Its happened on many occasions this season and no doubt in many a season before and will continue to plague teams in the years and seasons to come. Sometimes the laws of this game also create these often moments that end in heartache, but that as they say in the classics, is the very nature of the game.
So it was on Saturday with Direct Axis False Bay scraping home 15-14 against Go Nutz College Rovers after Rovers had led 14-7 at the break in quite the most remarkably entertaining and enthralling games of club rugby seen in ages, which was a real tribute to both clubs.
With the minutes ticking away and the home side 14-12 up it looked like a Rovers victory. Then came the telling blow with Rovers wing Mark Richards crossing for for a try under the poles right on time. Naturally it was understandable that their supporters were a little surprised as they had thought it was game set and match only to see their side being called back for a penalty to False Bay. Sadly for the KZNRU champions The Bay’s fly half Meryck Ward slotted the pressure kick to end his day with a double celebration having had just received the news that he had passed his PhD and seeing his side finishing top of Pool ‘D’ with a home quarter final .
There can be no doubt that this was a great advert for Club Rugby in every sense of the word. It was also a game of true emotions with Rovers skipper Chris Jordaan having played his last home game for his club after 12 years of loyal service to the College Rovers cause, whilst it was also a day to remember for False Bay scrumhalf Ridhaa Damon having come away with a special victory having played in his 150th game for his Constantia based club.
False Bay prop Ashley Wells opened the scoring with a superb try setup by scrumhalf Damon and converted by fullback Adnaan Osman. It didn’t take long for Rovers to return the favor to get on the scoreboard with their first try from flanker Matt Jones and beautifully converted by Mondi Nkosi, deputizing for the injured Gav Scott, from far out. The First half finished with the try of the match scored by the elusive Rovers center Ricky Bamber and converted by Nkosi.
The second half saw False Bay work their way back into the game with flank Mike Botha crossing for their second try midway through the half and from there on it was any ones game with both sides brilliant on defence. Then at the end of it all that cruel twist of fate that saw the visitors return home to the fairest Cape as victors.
All is not lost for Rovers as they will travel to Cape Town to face Tygerburg one of the youngest clubs in the Western Cape. A Community based club founded in 1992 and winners of Pool ‘C’ will certainly be a test of character for the KZN champions. in their quarter final game with the kickoff scheduled for 4pm.
False Bay will find themselves entertaining runners up in Pool ‘C’ Progress George. As Duane Heath the Managing Editor of the SA Rugby Annual and Project Manager of the Gold Cup has expressed “funnier things have happened in this game over the years and these two clubs could quite easily find their way into the final should all go well in the quarters and semi’s.”
In the other quarter final games QBR winners Pool ‘B’ play Sasol Hydra Ark Secunda runners up Pool ‘A’ and Newrak Rustenberg Impala winners Pool ‘A’ play Northam Platinum Rhinos runners up Pool ‘B’.