The Cell C Sharks Under 19s will travel with confidence for their SA Rugby Under 19 Championship round five clash with Free State Under 19s at CUT Rugby Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Having seen off Western Province 25-23 last week for their fourth consecutive win, the Cell C Sharks now share top spot on the log with the Blue Bulls, with a game in hand over the Pretoria side.
Once again, Head coach Sean Everitt can reflect on a hard-fought, but well-deserved win over perennial performers like Province.
“I am very proud of the guts and effort they showed last week,” he admits. “It wasn’t a pretty win but the boys really stuck their hands up on defence and that’s what ultimately won us the game.”
After four wins on the trot, Everitt feels that things are moving in the right direction for his team and they way they have gone about their business this season.
“We are definitely improving from week to week which is our season aim, along with performance. Although we won that game, we certainly didn’t perform to the standards we set ourselves, so there is still lots to work on.”
Mentioning defence as one area the coach is happy with, he also points out the fact that on attack, when the team got into the strike zone, they were rewarded.
“What was pleasing was, like last week, when we got into areas of the field where we needed to score, we managed to do that. That drove the positive outcome. It’s massively important that when opportunities present themselves, players take advantage of that. In saying that, we still feel we can do better on attack, we aren’t holding on to the ball long enough, so there is room for improvement. We want to get better as the competition moves on.”
With a full squad to choose from this week, Everitt hasn’t tampered with a winning formula and has stuck to the exact same match 23 as last week.
Each week has presented different challenges as far as the opposition goes but having seen off the Blue Bulls and Western Province in successive weeks, the Cell C Sharks Under 19s are well prepared for whatever Free State throws at them.
“Free State are always strong, and they also played in last year’s Under 19 final so we have no illusions about what a tough game we’re in for.
“They will be confident coming off a good win against the Lions; we know this is not going to be easy. Our forwards are going to have to be at their best against a strong pack that likes to maul the ball up. We’re expecting a big battle upfront.”
The 119th playing of the Hollywoodbets Murray Cup club rugby knockout competition got off to a smooth enough start without any upsets in the qualifying round on Saturday.
Defending champions College Rovers were made to look very ordinary in their opener against their hosts Westville Old Boys at Jimmy Bellows Park, particularly in the first half, only leading 24-14 at the break.
They did come back strongly in the second half but made heavy weather of their victory march playing six new caps in their First XV line up. In the end they did go on to score 13 tries to three with fullback Gavin Scott, wing Minenhle Mthethwe and Steven Booysen, making his debut for the First XV off the bench after nine years of trying, all crossing for two each.
The other tries went to wing Mark Richards, flyhalf Andy Huyseman, lock Ryan Carlson, center Brandon Bailing, Menzi Ngidi coming off the bench and flank Molotsi Bouwer who was named Man of the Match. Scott scored the rest with his boot.
Westville who really deserve huge credit for their performance replied with tries from their speedy wing Kyle Botha who crossed for two and prop Jason de Broize with flyhalf Wes Singleton slotting three conversions.
In the other games Richards Bay travelled to Volksrus and came away victorious beating their hosts 79-22 with their Man of the Match Blessing Nhlozi leading the charge crossing for three tries Further down the line in Ladysmith eThekwini Refractories Amanzimtoti had the better of the home side beating the Bulldogs 86-13. Tristan Blewitt was adjudged the Man of the match. Across in Piet Retief the students from FNB UKZN Maritzburg accounted for their hosts winning 70- 27 with their man Sanele Baleni being awarded the Man of the Match.
SA Home Loans Durban Collegians made their second qualifying round visit to Vryheid and scoring an emphatic 97-10 win over the local side with Dillon Faber being nominated as the Man of the Match. UKZN Durban hosted Bidvest Insurance Crusaders going down 35-17 to their visitors with Wayne Lemley being named Man of the Match, while up at Shongweni in the closest game of the day South Coast Warriors edged out Land Rover Durban Hillcrest 17-7 with Brandt Field being named Man of the Match.
Finally at the home of the 128 year old original Murray Cup Trophy, Woodburn, Varsity College ran riot beating home side Maritzburg Collegians 90-7 with their Man of the match Mabhutana Peter leading the try scoring spree with three of the best.
The draw for the quarter finals took place on Monday evening in the Sharks changeroom at Jonsson Kings Park and sees the 2018 champions College Rovers at home to Richards Bay while last years runners up Durban Collegians will be entertained by Crusaders in Durban North. In the remaining games South Coast Warriors travel to the capital to meet UKZN Pietermaritzburg and Varsity College will enjoy home ground advantage against Amanzimtoti.
The draw for the Junior Murray Cup also took place with Hillcrest at home to Westville Old Boys. UKZN Durban will also travel to the capital to meet Maritzburg Collegians at Woodburn while up North Vreyheid will be at home to Piet Retief and Ladysmith will host Volksrus.
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