Rugby news from KwaZulu-Natal:
Searching for Consistency:
Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez highlighted early tries conceded as the major setback in the team’s 40-10 loss to the Vodacom Bulls in our Vodacom Super Rugby match at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Saturday evening.
Although we scored late in the first half to cut the Vodacom Bulls lead, they had scored three tries in the opening 25 minutes and it was always going to be an uphill battle fighting back from that. “We spoke about the Bulls scoring points in the first 40 minutes of every single game, it’s been a trend of theirs right through this season,” explained du Preez after the clash.
“Unfortunately, they kept that habit going against us which put us on the back foot and from which we could never recover.” He paid tribute to the Vodacom Bulls’ game-plan which was well-executed on the night.
“They played the perfect game, there was a good mix of running rugby and kicking the ball into space – we just couldn’t handle it,” he said. He admitted that the biggest issue though was the team not following up two outstanding performances against the Blues and Hurricanes with a winning effort against the Bulls.
“I guess after you’ve played two really good games in New Zealand when the team show how talented they are and then to come back and have an absolute embarrassment at home, because that’s what it is: an embarrassment. “There was a complete lack of effort and nothing went right.”
Although there’s an argument for the Bulls three early tries striking an immense psychological blow, du Preez felt that this wasn’t a fair excuse. “There was still lots of time to pull the game back, we weren’t down and out, you have to fight every minutes to do that,” he said. “But we didn’t, there was no effort.” Although the loss is deeply felt, this is not the time for panic or for making wholesale changes.
“After all, these are the same guys who played last week, but where’s the consistency?” the coach asked rhetorically. “You go from really playing well to having a disappointing performance like this.” With another big derby match coming up this weekend – against the Stormers – du Preez said he’d be looking for a return to consistency. “We have to be, we have to bounce back and take this loss on the chin, we have to move on and fix it this week.”
Sharks Go Down:
The Cell C Sharks lost 40-10 to the Vodacom Bulls at JONSSON KINGS PARK on a wet Saturday evening in a match where things just didn’t go right for the home team.
The Cell C Sharks were dealt a late blow with Beast Mtawarira pulling out of the match with a groin strain and while one player does not make a team, perhaps it was a portent of bad things to come.
Robert du Preez succeeded with an early 40m penalty but a few minutes later, the Vodacom Bulls, with penalty advantage, chipped over the defence for a good run onto the ball and the opening try of the game.
Two minutes later, a grubber kick was on point and Warrick Gelant ran onto the ball and scored his second try. The Conversion was good and the visitors held a 14-3 lead.
Although we were able to gain a measure of possession following the early advantage to the visitors, we were unable to convert that into points before the Vodacom Bulls exploited a driving maul for the third try, this time to hooker Adrian Strauss for a 21-3 lead after 25 minutes of play.
Although the Vodacom Bulls were quite happy to concede penalty after penalty, we were unable to make it count before Andre Esterhuizen powered over from first phase ball off an attacking lineout as he showed his immense strength for the important try just before half-time.
The rain came bucketing down in the second half and with that came more woes as the Vodacom Bulls earned a penalty try and we lost Thomas du Toit to a yellow card after we had conceded successive penalties.
The second half never really rose to any great heights, the wet ball making handling difficult and we battled to build territorial advantage.
The Vodacom Bulls had the last word, Gelant latching onto a loose ball in the midfield, kicking it ahead and scoring his third try before we turned over possession in our 22 for a try out wide.
After the two wonderful matches in New Zealand, this was an inexplicable result.