Although the Cell C Sharks started their Currie Cup campaign on a high with a resounding 33-10, bonus point victory over the Pumas on Friday night, coach Robert du Preez cautions that they still have plenty of work to do.

Last year, the Pumas – also in Nelspruit and also in round one – outmuscled the Cell C Sharks 33-24 to claim a morale-boosting win for the hosts. Not so this time when lessons learned were taken on-board and not repeated.

“I think it was a good start although there are still quite a few things to work on and we need to improve, every week,” admits du Preez.

“Intention and the effort: those are the two most important things, and if we do make mistakes, that’s fine because you can’t play the perfect game, but I am happy with the intent and the effort that the guys showed.”

Although there was an outstanding effort from a pretty established pack who asserted themselves and really dominated (in particular, the scrums), and never allowed themselves to be bullied, the backline was a rather young one.

Curwin Bosch (flyhalf and later fullback), centre Lukhanyo Am, Neil Maritz on the wing and Innocent Radebe coming on as replacement flyhalf were all playing in their first Currie Cup campaigns at senior level and du Preez gave a thumbs’ up to their contribution.

“I thought the youngsters came through fine. It’s still a long road ahead but I was happy. The Pumas in Nelspruit is a tough proposition, so, from that point of view, I was happy.

“It was a really tough game, at half time they were still in the game; it wasn’t easy and I’m pleased with that.”

This Friday night the Cell C Sharks host their first home game of the tournament at Growthpoint KINGS PARK and du Preez admits that winning at home is crucial. Griquas had a bye in the first round but are always tough contenders, especially in the early stages of this competition.

Not only does du Preez want his team to play well, but also play entertaining rugby.

“We’ve got to set the standard; we started well but we have to improve and we’re here at home. I know, having played here myself representing the Bulls, this was always a difficult place to come and play, and we want to make it like that for visiting teams and play in a way that attracts the fans back to the stadium.”

Any suggestion that heaping praise on Griquas is merely sprouting off platitudes should be tempered with the fact that the men from Kimberley  finished runners-up to Western Province in the Currie Cup Qualifiers and will definitely come to Durban with a point to prove.

“Griquas are a very tough side, very physical and we’re going to have to bring our A game to beat them.”

The teams meet on Friday night with kick-off at 7.10pm.