Rugby news from KwaZulu-Natal:
Minimal Changes for Bulls:
Although a busy schedule suggests rotation to keep the players fresh, Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez hasn’t tinkered much with the team that defeated Griquas in their next match against the Blue Bulls on Wednesday.
The trio of Chiliboy Ralepelle, Daniel du Preez, and Curwin Bosch are all unavailable for the clash as they will be at a Springbok training camp this week, and their starting places are taken by Franco Marais, Tera Mtembu and Inny Radebe respectively. Jean-Luc du Preez who was rested last week has also been included in the Springbok squad.
There are no other changes to the starting line-up. With two matches being played in the space of a few days, the Cell C Sharks will be taking 26 players on their trip to Johannesburg. The bench for the match has not yet been confirmed.
The Cell C Sharks players have their work cut out for them as they head into a tough week that starts with a meeting against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria on Wednesday in a rare midweek fixture to Saturday’s showdown with the Golden Lions at Emirates Airline Park.
“I haven’t played three games in eight days since Craven Week, nor a midweek game,” says Keegan Daniel on our busy schedule.
“It’s different, but a nice change.”
Given the Blue Bulls tradition of big, heavy packs, the Cell C Sharks will look to match them with a forward pack of their own that Daniel rates highly.
“You wouldn’t look at our pack and say we’re a bit light or inexperienced; we do have experience,” he explains. We will be tested more than we have been so far in our campaign, but in the last two weeks we’ve shown what we are capable of and, if anything, we’ve left a few tries out there.”
The expectation is that the Blue Bulls are evolving the style of rugby they play and adding a few arrows to their quiver.
“I think they’re trying to change the way they play a bit, they’re trying to be a bit more dynamic and I think playing a different brand of rugby will be down to John Mitchell’s influence.
“Our test will be on defence because we haven’t really been tested for long periods of time during a game. There have been moments but there hasn’t been continuous pressure.”
Taking momentum into this game is crucial, and certainly something to give us a strong sense of belief.
“When you’re winning, you are confident and moral and spirits are high. But there is pressure on us to improve each week and we do want to keep our standards high in the Currie Cup.”
|The Cell C Sharks
||Replacements (Not yet confirmed)
|1||Thomas du Toit||–||Akker van der Merwe|
|2||Franco Marais||–||Benhard Janse van Rensburg|
|3||Ross Geldenhuys||–||Cameron Wright|
|4||Tyler Paul||–||Jean Droste|
|5||Ruan Botha (Captain)||–||John-Hubert Meyer|
|6||Keegan Daniel||–||Juan Schoeman|
|7||Jacques Vermeulen||–||Louis Schreuder|
|8||Tera Mtembu||Marius Louw|
|9||Michael Claassens||Mzamo Majola|
|10||Inny Radebe||Odwa Ndungane|
|11||S’bu Nkosi||Wian Vosloo|
|14||Kobus van Wyk|
WEDNESDAY COLUMN CLUB RUGBY:
The Murray Cup presented this year by HiTech Ink, Cell C and Castle Lager, has always through the years somehow managed to bring the best out of clubs none more so than the quarter final between hosts Bidvest Insurance Crusaders and their neighbours Varsity College which saw the visitors edge out their hosts 36-35 in an absolute thriller last Saturday.
Varsity College have improved in leaps and bounds this season but no one could have forecast the inspirational performance from Crusaders who were understrength on the day with so many of their regular First XV players out with injuries.
It was a game that changed regularly in the first half and eventually saw Varsity College leading 17-16 at half time after Saders had taken an early 16-10 lead. The second half saw Crusaders produce some of the best rugby that they have played all season.
Varsity College looked in control going into the second half and were quick to add points. With an early 25-16 lead it looked as though they were going to eventually run away with the game but Crusaders refused to lie down and with Varsity College holding onto a 29-23 lead running into the last quarter it was anyone’s game. With the minutes ticking away Varsity College seemed to have sealed the game leading 36-26 before Crusaders finished with a flourish and almost securing a famous victory almost on time. It was not to be but the hosts deserved huge credit for making a game of it.
Wing George Kwashie led the Varsity College charge with three fine tries with the others going to Kyle Theron, Ray Williams and Njabulo Zondi with Duran Krummeck kicking the balance. For Crusaders Selwyn White crossed for two with the others going to Chris van Niekerk and Siyabonga Ncgobo. ‘Bakkies’ Janse van Rensburg with a great kicking performance so nearly won the game for Saders kicking four conversions and three penalties.
Up in Pietermaritzburg SA Home Loans Durban Collegians beat FNB UKZN Impi 59-5 while at Mick Kelly Park in Empangeni the home side Mancosa Zululand Rhinos where beaten 54-13 by eThekwini Refractories Amanzimtoti.
Down in Uvongo College Rovers scrumhalf Grant Williams led the try scoring spree with three touchdowns while centre Brandon Bailing and wing Tythan Adam also crossed for two each in their 78-14 victory march over South Coast Warriors.
This Saturday sees Rovers up against Varsity College and Toti facing Durban Collegians in the Semi-Finals at the home of Crusaders at Durban North. The second stringers will follow their First XV with Rovers up against Varsity College and Amanzimtoti set to challenge the Peter Taylor Trophy holders Durban Collegians.
In the Junior Murray Cup there was the first upset of the knockout competitions with Durban Mets beating Westville Old Boys 26-24. They will go on to meet Jaguar Land Rover Durban Hillcrest who also had a narrow escape in edging out Harlequins 20-14 out on the Buff in their quarter-final.
Up North Vryheid will host Newcastle Highlanders in their semi-final after Vryheid thumped Piet Retief 43-17 and Newcastle accounted for Sentraal from Dundee in their respective quarter-final games.
Proceedings start at 11.40am on Saturday at the home of Crusaders in Ranleigh Crescent Durban North with College Rovers Under 20 up against UKZN in the first of the Basil Medway Knockout Under 20 Trophy semi-final games on the Crusaders No 1 field followed by Hillcrest up against Durban Mets in the Junior Murray Cup semi-final at 13.20pm. With games going on all day on both fields it will be a full day of Club Rugby at its very best with an added bonus at 3pm with the Sharks Under 19 playing their visitors from Bloemfontein, the Cheetahs.
On Saturday 19 August The Kwa Thintwa School for the Deaf founded in 1981 by the late Archbishop Dennis Hurley in Inchanga will be hosting the second of their fundraising five and 10 km fun runs. The entry fee is R20 and for further details contact Lyle at 031-783 4006
After two successive victories, the latest a 41-3 defeat of a potentially dangerous Griquas’ side, the Cell C Sharks are lifting the intensity, and with a tough week ahead of us, will look to raise the intensity even more.
“I hope we continue to show consistency now,” said head coach Robert du Preez after the team scored six tries, to go with the previous week’s four against the Pumas.
“It was good, we created a lot of opportunities, but I still think there were a whole lot of them we didn’t convert. But we are getting better at that. It was really tough out there, there’s a lot of dew and the ball gets very wet. Although it may look like it, these are not fantastic playing conditions.”
On evaluating Griquas, he expected more – and different – from them.
“To be fair to them, I said before the game that they’ve been playing some really good rugby and scoring a lot of tries, but I think they’ll agree that this probably wasn’t their best performance.”
Having scored over 40 points in their two previous matches leading up to the clash with the Cell C Sharks, Griquas had shown an ability to pile on the points, but in a match where they were limited to a solitary penalty – just three points – du Preez felt that there was an expectation that Griquas would run the ball more.
“We thought they would play more attacking rugby, but they kicked a lot and I don’t think that worked for them.”
But it wasn’t only due to Griquas failure to score any tries, but also our defence which, in two weeks, has conceded only three points. The pressure put on the visitors clearly played an important role in the victory.
“We’re very happy with our defence and that gives us a lot of confidence going into the next two games.”
Asked about performances from the players, he admitted that it was a good effort from everyone.
“I thought there were a couple of guys who played really well, I thought Jacques Vermeulen was outstanding, he made no mistakes and showed a massive work-rate. I also thought Daniel played well, Thomas du Toit was good, and Man of the Match, and Sbu Nkosi also played well. So there were some really good individual performances.”
The Cell C Sharks showed great continuity on attack and in some of the tries, it took a real team effort that got the reward.
“Our continuity was good,” said du Preez, “and although there were a few tries left out there, we’re happy with the effort on attack.”
This week presents the unusual challenge of playing two matches in the space of three days as the Cell C Sharks visit Pretoria to play the Bulls on Wednesday and the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
“With the short turnaround time, the match against the Bulls will be a big step up, and whichever Lions side is selected will be a good team; it will be tough.”