Lambie on course for return
Cape Town - Cell C Sharks coach Jake White agreed that the last gasp defeat to the DHL Stormers in the final Vodacom Super Rugby match before the June break was a massive blow to his team, but he refused at the post-match press conference to let the disappointment cloud his perspective, according to the supersport.com website.
“Look, if you had asked me at the start of the competition if I would buy a situation where we would be going into the June break at the top of the log by two points with two matches for us to play, I would happily have brought that,” said White.
“There is still some way to go in this competition, and the Lions’ win over the Bulls earlier today was a reminder that in this competition anything can happen. So I still have confidence in this team and what we can do. The season is far from over and while this result was a setback, we are still well in the competition.”
But White conceded that his team has now lost the strong position they were in, with the Sharks now needing to rely on results elsewhere to go their way if they are still to achieve their objective of finishing top on the final log and thus ensuring that they stay at home for the entire play-off round, in other words all the way to the final if they get there.
“Obviously this result was far from ideal and we accept that we dropped the baton after all the hard work we did overseas. There are other sides at the top who have a game on us and we need to now win two away games while hoping that the other teams drop games. That is a different situation to where we were when we came back from tour and had we won today we would have been in a really good position.
“But as I keep saying, there is still a lot that can still happen in this competition. It is very difficult to predict results and today’s game against the Stormers was another indication of the small margins that separate victories from defeats. Had we held out and that final kick not gone over, we would have won. That’s just the way it is at this level of sport.”
White said he was confident that Patrick Lambie, the injured flyhalf, would be back for the remaining two games against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and the Stormers in Cape Town next month.
“Patrick is doing well and we are expecting him to be able to play again after the June break. Whether or not he will be able to start or not is something we will decide nearer the time, but it will be great to have him back,” said White.
Jean Deysel should be back from his suspension by then too, but White will be watching the four matches the Springboks play in the month of June quite anxiously as there are sure to be several Sharks players in the Bok starting teams for those games.
The Sharks looked out on their feet in the Stormers game and clearly there are some players who are in desperate need of rest, with the key players, all of them Boks, being on the top of that list. If Heyneke Meyer does what he has done by starting them in every game they are available for, White will still have a very tired team playing for him come July, so the outlook is far from positive.
The Sharks currently top the log and are two points ahead of the Waratahs and four ahead of the Crusaders, but the Waratahs and Crusaders have three games remaining whereas the Sharks have two. That effectively means that as it stands, it is all square at the top, with the two overseas sides having the edge. In the next round of matches, which will feature just New Zealand and Australian teams, the Waratahs host the Brumbies and the Crusaders travel to the Hurricanes. Both those games take place on 28 June, the day the Springboks play Scotland in Port Elizabeth.
The next Sharks match is on Saturday, 5 July, against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.