DURBAN – The Sharks will travel to Bloemfontein on Saturday full of confidence for their Currie Cup semi-final with the Free State Cheetahs after a sensational performance in downing the Blue Bulls at Loftus.
Down and out three weeks ago after losses to Griquas and the Pumas, the Sharks have now beaten all the traditional South African rugby heavyweights in Western Province, the Cheetahs, Lions and now the Bulls, with the latter two games away from home. What has been so encouraging for Sharks fans is the way the youngsters have stood up to the challenge of senior rugby. The Sharks’ halfback pairing of Sanele Nohamba and Boeta Chamberlain are playing as if they are unto the manor born.
Nohamba was the first of the youngsters to come through, with a man-of-the-match performance against the Cheetahs in his run-on debut, and now it is Chamberlain who has been seriously impressive.
The 20-year-old showed some deft touches – both with his passing and his chip kicks – to set up tries. Interestingly, coach Sean Everitt says there is more to come from Chamberlain.
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“I was particularly pleased with his defence tonight, a lot of people have questioned it and as it is teams like to target the flyhalf channel, but Boeta stood up really well and that will give him confidence.
“He controlled the game really well, like a mature adult that has been around for a while. He is only going to get better – there are parts of his game that you haven’t seen yet. He is really quick and has good feet. Hopefully we will see that soon.”
Also very impressive was fullback Aphelele Fassi, the man of the match.
“I am very pleased for Aphelele, he has worked really hard on his game,” Everitt said. “You can see the class that he has and we look forward to developing him into an international-class fullback… I don’t think it is going to be too long before he gets higher honours.”
One aspect of the Sharks’ game that Everitt was not too pleased with was their defence, especially in the opening quarter which saw the Bulls run in three tries.
“Defence is going to be critical this week against the Cheetahs, who are a team that likes to keep the ball in hand,” the coach warned. “We looked after them pretty well in Durban, but we have to go back to the drawing board and work really hard on our defence otherwise we will be in for a long day.
It is certainly something we can rectify because it is a department that we have been good in this season.”