As the Carling Currie Cup reaches the penultimate round, the Cell C Sharks are gearing up for a tough battle against the Sigma Lions at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday afternoon.
Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt has made minimal changes to the side that defeated Toyota Free State last weekend, the hookers swapping jerseys as Dan Jooste gets a start and Kerron van Vuuren plays off the bench, while Gerbrandt Grobler makes his debut in the second row, starting in place of Le Roux Roets who has enjoyed playing his best rugby since joining the Cell C Sharks and now gets a well-deserved break. Phepsi Buthelezi’s return from rest marks the final change amongst the forwards.
Everitt has selected Grant Williams and Lionel Cronje as his halfback pairing, the duo coming in for Cameron Wright and Boeta Chamberlain in the only changes to the backline.
With the Lions this weekend and the final of the pool matches against DHL Western Province on the last weekend of August, captain Phepsi Buthelezi’s assessment of his team ahead of the play-offs is positive.
“I think we’re in a very good place and that’s not just by looking at the last two results, while our training quality has improved, our performances in games have improved” he explains.
“Going into the business end of the competition, we’re in a very good place and the guys are starting to get really excited. I also think we’re starting to peak just at the right time.”
Buthelezi is calling for a more disciplined performance from his team and doesn’t shy away from the hard facts that penalties are costing his team.
“It’s definitely a massive issue for us and something we’re constantly working towards improving,” he admits. “We made it difficult for ourselves against Toyota Free State, we know over the last two games this discipline issue has been a massive one and it’s a constant work-on for us.”
The Lions currently find themselves in last place on the log and while they have a mathematical chance of slipping into the top four, playing their final match will realistically be more about pride than a top four finish.
“They will be desperate, they’re a quality team but have been very unfortunate with results not going their way in recent weeks.
“The trend we’ve picked up in their play is that they’re kicking a lot less lately, so we’re expecting a high tempo game, lots of running rugby and plenty of tackles.
“We want to get there and execute our game plan, it’s something that’s worked for us and something we want to polish heading towards the play-offs.”
Cell C Sharks
- Khwezi Mona
- Dan Jooste
- Lourens Adriaanse
- Gebrandt Grobler
- Emile van Heerden
- Dylan Richardson
- Henco Venter
- Phepsi Buthelezi (c)
- Grant Williams
- Lionel Cronje
- Thaakir Abrahams
- Marius Louw
- Jeremy Ward
- Yaw Penxe
- Anthony Volmink
- Kerron van Vuuren
- Ntuthuko Mchunu
- Wiehahn Herbst
- Thembelani Bholi
- Jeandre (Lappies) Labuschagne
- Sanele Nohamba
- Boeta Chamberlain
- Murray Koster