The Cell C Sharks XV face Free State at the Princess Magogo Stadium in kwaMashu on Saturday in the second round, return leg match of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge. The match kicks-off at 17h00.
This is the final weekend of pool matches before the quarter-finals next Sunday (1 July) and this match takes on the importance of a knock-out all of its own.
The Cell C Sharks XV lost 34-38 to Griquas last weekend in a tightly-contested match, five tries apiece, but Griquas’ two extra conversions proving to be the difference.
The Cell C Sharks XV have just about sewn up a place in the last eight, currently fighting Boland and the Lions for the two remaining wildcard spots available.
“My biggest frustration for the players was that we let it slip against Griquas,” explained head coach Ricardo Loubscher. “I thought this was a game of missed opportunities. They put us under pressure at the set-pieces and we conceded soft tries in the first half. On attack I thought we scored some brilliant tries, but still some missed chances.
“The positives to take out of the game is that we took two points.”
They have been boosted by the inclusion of a number of Cell C Sharks players, including the front row of Juan Schoeman, Franco Marais and Ross Geldenhuys with lock Stephan Lewies and flank Philip van der Walt adding further experience.
The trio of backs, scrumhalf Louis Schreuder, flyhalf Curwin Bosch and wing Lwazi Mvovo complete the inclusion of players who will add great value for this match and earn some game time while Vodacom Super Rugby takes a break for the June Test window.
“This weekend is all about making sure we get a win-win out of this game, in other words, on one hand we want to give the Super Rugby players some game time, and on the other, we want to qualify for the play-offs,” Loubscher said. “It’s all about the bigger picture, it’s all about the franchise, working together and making sure the Sharks are the priority going forward.
“Looking at the play-offs, we need to ensure a win first, and then if there’s a bonus point, it will take us to second on the log which gives us a better ranking for the knockout rounds.”
Free State won’t be easy-beats. They currently occupy second spot on the log, but a good win will consign them into third place, while we leap-frog them into second.
“Their defence is one thing that stands out, as is their set-piece. On attack, you have to take your chances against them. The previous game was a two pointer, we lost patience towards the end and couldn’t convert our opportunities.
“It’s nice to take the game to the community, expose the brand a little more and we’re looking forward to the game.”
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