The Cell C Sharks have undoubtedly been one of the more impressive teams Super Rugby this year. After three games, the South African franchise sits sixth on the combined log with eight points.
First up was a home derby against the Bulls, a side who traditionally got the better of their coastal rivals in the recent past, with the 16-16 draw in 2016 was the only blemish in recent memory. Lukhanyo Am and his charges were hoping history would favour them once more as they had won five of their last seven matches when beginning the season on home soil.
Sean Everitt opted to go with a similar line-up to that which had played against the Stormers on Superhero Sunday. At half-time the visitors looked to continue where they left off against their opponents leading 9-6. Whatever Everett said during the break worked as the Durbanites turned out a different team in the second stanza winning the match 23-15.
Though there were a lot of handling errors, this was likely down to early-season jitters. The second encounter was an improved one as Makazole Mapimpi and Aphelele Fassi ran riot in Dunedin, mauling the Highlanders 42-20.
The high-flying Durbanites would have headed to the Cake Tin in confident mood, with a well settled side featuring some of the most exciting youngsters in South Africa and a core of World Cup winners.
The Sharks were immediately hamstrung by the news that both Sbu Nkosi (minor niggle) and Curwin Bosch (family bereavement) – two key players within the side would be unavailable. The loss of Bosch in particular would have hit hardest, with the young pivot having enjoyed a sparkling start to the season.
Things would get worse for the Sharks in the first half in Wellington, with young Boeta Chamberlain and Makazole Mapimpi being forced off in the first half. This would force Sanele Nohamba to fill in at fly-half with Jeremy Ward slotting in at wing. All of the Sharks’ backline replacements for the fixture had been used before half time. Despite all the injuries, the KwaZulu-Natal boys put in a good swift against a very good Hurricanes outfit who were just too strong in the second half, running out 38-22 winners.
Next up is a trip to the Mars Stadium to face the Rebels who are second on the Australian conference. The good news is that top scorer Bosch is expected to start after he rejoined the team during the week. And with the state that the Australian conference currently finds itself in – Brumbies aside – the Sharks will be looking to cash in.
Written by Banele Pikwa for Hollywoodbets