It was a nail bitter but the Cell C Sharks manage to secure their spot in the Vodacom Super Rugby semi-finals for next week by beating the Highlanders 31-27.
They started the match with power and precision and took an early lead of 10-0 with the power which the forwards provided. The Sharks had dominated the Highlanders in the scrum, lineouts in the early exchanges. I the Sharks were more clinical on attack they would have won this match with a comfortable margin.
The Sharks inability to finish and some bad defensive lapses in the game could have cost them a spot in next week’s semi-final against the Crusaders in Christchurch. If there is one thing Jake and his management team must get right for next week it will be their defensive structures.
Another worrying factor for the Sharks will be their decision making with ball in hand. They can simple not hand over ball against the top teams as the Highlanders showed with their try from a turnover in their own twenty two. Aimless kicking from the Sharks and especially Cobus Reinach gave the Highlanders the ammunition to counter and stay in the game.
The Sharks domination in the set pieces gave them the edge over the Highlanders and to secure the win.
The standout player was Jean Deysel and he had change the flow of the game for the sharks with his strong runs and titan like defence. His linking in attack gave the Sharks ball runners the opportunity to run hard at the gaps. I must have been a flip of the coin between him and Bismarck Du Plessis for the man of the match.
Bismarck was devastating and with Coetzee and Alberts were able to control the ball and give a platform for the Sharks.
One thing is for sure, the Sharks will have a game on against the Crusaders next week and will have to be clinical in all aspect of the game if they will want to advance to the final.
Sharks – Tries: Marcell Coetzee, Bismarck du Plessis, Tonderai Chavhanga. Conversions: Frans Steyn (2). Penalties: Steyn (4).
Highlanders – Tries: Malakai Fekitoa, Kane Hames, Phil Burleigh. Conversions: Lima Sopoaga (3). Penalties: Sopoaga (2).