Sharks look ahead to playoffs
Durban - The Cell C Sharks 34-10 defeat of the Stormers at Newlands laid the perfect platform for the knockout stages of the 2014 Super Rugby tournament when they host the Highlanders in Durban on Saturday.Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick
reports that Saturday's man-of-th-match Marcell Coetzee
explained after the game that his family are after his regular awards and he shares them (he’s won three this season already) around.
"This was a game when two sides went all out at each other and I’d like to commend the Stormers for really showing good form," he said.
"Playing against a quality side like them (the Stormers), and a quality loose forward trio like theirs really brings out the best in you."
Stormers captain Schalk Burger said in his final game for the Stormers before he heads over to play in Japan that the Sharks took their chances when opportunities presented themselves.
"That’s the mark of a championship side," he admitted afterwards.
"They created just a couple of opportunities – fewer than us – but they grabbed all of them.
"They’re a tough team to play, they wrapped up the South African conference a while back and that shows their class.
"They were top of the log for most of the season, and us and the Bulls were languishing down in 10th and 11th place.
"So all credit to them, they’ve been a superb side this year."
Bismarck du Plessis, captain of the Sharks was thrilled with his team’s showing in this final pool game where they were severely tested but came out trumps in all areas.
"We really stuck to our guns in this match," he explained of his team’s commitment.
"We had said that we wanted to play minute by minute and after having scored three tries by the end of the game, we would have loved to play another couple of minutes."
Despite such an overwhelming advantage to the Stormers in terms of possession stakes, they were unable to add to their first half tally of just 10 points which was testament to the fantastic defensive effort from the Sharks.
He admitted that it would stand them in good stead for the playoffs where the focus is not on chasing bonus points or points’ differential, but purely on winning games.
And making sure of closing out any chances they may get.
"We had three opportunities and we took all three against the Stormers.
"In playoff rugby you might not even get that many.
"We just want to win the next three games."
Taking momentum into the knockout stages was one of the most critical aims and they accomplished it with the victory.
"We wouldn’t have come into this game with the pressure on us had we won those last two games, but that’s all in the past," Du Plessis admitted in light of the previous two games (losses to the Cheetahs and Stormers).
"We now play the Highlanders in the quarter-final at Kings Park and I hope we have a full stadium and that all of South Africa gets behind us and cheer us on."