The Cell C Sharks XV team named to play the Leopards in Potchefstroom in Saturday’s SuperSport Rugby Challenge return leg clash has been bolstered by the inclusion of senior Cell C Sharks players.
Head coach Paul Anthony has been able to call in some Vodacom Super Rugby experience as his team look to achieve the double over the team lying one place above them on the Central Log.
With a game in hand over three of the other teams in their conference, they know that a positive result will really provide the impetus needed to qualify for the knock-outs.
The Cell C Sharks XV won 32-5 in the first round match in Uvongo and have flank Jacques Vermeulen, flyhalf Garth April, young wing sensation Sbu Nkosi and returning centre Andre Esterhuizen all available.
Paul Anthony has made just the one change to the pack, Vermeulen replacing Wian Vosloo, with three changes amongst the backline. April comes in for Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Nkosi takes over from Ilunga Mukendi and Esterhuizen is in for Marius Louw.
“The Leopards are a very strong defensive side,” says Paul Anthony, reflecting on their opposition’s strengths. “They are also very good in loose play and overall, their all-round game is impressive.
“Areas we are looking to improve in are our accuracy; we need to be a lot more clinical with ball in hand and show patience on attack and we also need to be harder at the breakdown.”
The coach feels that this game, and the last two after that, are vitally important for the team.
“We have three away fixtures remaining and it is a non-negotiable for us. We need to and want to win these games.”
As the clubs prepare for the last game in Round One of the Fidelity Security Premier Division it has become a two horse race between SA Home Loans Durban Collegians and the 2016 Moor Cup holders College Rovers with neither side having lost a match in the opening round. However Collegians hold all the aces going into their big game on Saturday with a one point advantage on the log table after Rovers dropped a valuable log point in their second game of the season against eThekwini Refractories Amanzimtoti.
For the rest of the clubs following the front runners its a simple case of the survival of the fittest to stay in the top five as the sides turn to contest the second round and as it stands It will be Collegians, Rovers, Toti, Crusaders and Varsity College with two Zululand sides Mancosa Zululand Rhinos and Richards Bay waiting in the wings.
Last Thursday College Rovers were given a tough time of it in beating a revved up and improved FNB UKZN Impi outfit 45-0 after leading 33-0 at the break. The students deserved huge credit for holding Rovers back in the second half and perhaps it was a wakeup call for the 2016 champions.
For Rovers hooker Chris Kemp led the charge crossing for two of his sides six tries with the others going to scrumhalf Grant Williams, wing Sipho Mkize, prop Gerhard Engelbrecht, flank Liam O’Connell and fullback Gavin Scott who also kicked the balance.
Across the Umgeni at the home of Bidvest Insurance Crusaders in Ranleigh Crescent Durban Collegians were also given a bit of a wakeup call. Although coming away with a convincing enough win in the end beating their hosts 43-20 they had found themselves trailing 20-19 at halftime after a somewhat sloppy first half, which saw Crusaders with a favourable bounce of the ball and an intercept try that saw them cross the Collegians line twice and for the home supporters it must have felt as though their side was about to record the first surprise result of the season.
It was not to be with Collegians producing a clinical winning second half with their tries going to Wade Elliott, Denham Fosteras, Lungelo, Matt Seba, Jacques Venter and Morne Joubert with Venter doing the rest with his boot. Crusaders replied with two tries by the mercurial Selvin White and two conversions and two penalties by Bakkies Jansen van Rensburg.
In the other games Jaguars beat South Coast Warriors 41-31, Richards Bay had a good away win beating Newcastle 43-21 and Varsity College accounted for Zululand Rhinos 46-17 at Mick Kelly Park in Empangeni.
On Saturday besides the big game between Collegians and Rovers which will be hosted by Collegians on KP 10, Amanzimtoti will travel to the Capital to meet UKZN Impi at the Peter Booysen Stadium, South Coast Warriors host Crusaders, Jaguars entertain Varsity College and Newcastle are at home to Zululand Rhinos.
In the First Division Jaguar Land Rover Durban Hillcrest now are certain to take home the South Section title after another convincing performance beating Durban Mets 82-0 while Westville beat Maritzburg Collegians 79-14 and Ballito Dolphins had a good win against Harlequins beating the Bluff side 27-17.
In the Under 20 ‘A’ Division College Rovers improve with every outing this time around beating UKZN 49-14 while Crusaders picked up their first win of the season beating Jaguars 25-12.
One must however question the structures of South African Rugby, as most of the clubs will be losing their star Under 19 and Under 20 players to the Junior Provincial Currie Cup competition and we have to ask why is South Africa the only country in World Rugby that has an Under 19 and Under 21 provincial competition when the rest of the rugby playing nations stick to the IRB format of Under 20 rugby. In closing if our structures are supposedly all that successful somehow our National results certainly don’t indicate that.
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