Coach intent on keeping Rhinos feet firmly on the ground

Storming into the second round of the KZNRU club rugby season in CF Glew 5th Division, league leaders Reservoir Hills Rhinos took on Jaguars Berea-Tech in their second home game of the season at the Siripat Road Sports Complex.

It was always going to be a tough ask for a Jaguars side in the process of rebuilding, and coach, Ryan Naidoo was under no illusions as to what awaited them against a resurgent Rhinos team that dealt with Queensburgh Rugby Club a fortnight ago.

Rhinos coach, Andrew Osborn was blunt in his assessment before the match pointing out that he expected nothing less of his young guns other than a clinical, ruthless display from the first minute.

“Our focus as always is to concentrate on the basics, and executing our own game plan. Every opposition presents a different challenge, Jaguars are no different. I have emphasised to our players that we cannot relax and take our foot off the pedal. One game at a time, and clinical in the execution,” said Naidoo.

And the Rhinos team duly did that. With Osborn selecting a strong forward pack, the game plan was to out muscle the Jaguars front men, and then unleash the dangerous Rhinos backline to wreak havoc.

The return of Bonga Tshabalala to scrumhalf added stability to the squad, with the seasoned backline of captain Lerato Khuzwayo, Sihle Buthelezi and Dean Moneron being boosted by newcomer, James Bennett at fullback.

ALSO READ: Rhinos on a winning streak

The game started at a cracking pace with the Rhinos forwards bossing Jaguars with relentless pressure on attack, combined with uncompromising tackles by Mpatho Shange, Lapzen Matsoso and Elgin Hatting on defence. Eventually, the Jaguars defence buckled under the onslaught and the floodgates opened.

Kamal Shetu returning from injury crossed the whitewash twice to score a brace, with Buthelezi, Bennett, Matsoso and Shange scything through in quick succession to add to Jaguars woes.

The sides went into the half-time break with the score 27-0 to the Rhinos. Coach Osborn then read the riot act and demanded more clinical passing and ruthless in their execution.

The players duly responded and piled on the pressure, starting with aggressive tackling and a quicker passing game to release the backline.

The tough team talk galvanised the team into action, and the flood became a deluge as the Rhinos responded true to their mascot and gored their opposition into submission in the second half.

Regularly punching holes in the Jaguars defence, the home team scored seven more tries before the final whistle was blown with the score ending 97 – 7 in the Rhinos favour.

Coach Osborn was understandably happy by the result, but is intent on keeping his Rhinos feet firmly on the ground.

“While it is great to have such a convincing victory under your belt, the season and league is far from over. Now that we have had such a successful run, we are the team to beat and everyone will want a piece of Rhino meat. Our focus needs to remain on what we need to do and implement our game plan successfully,” he said.

Rhinos chairman, Niren ‘Mizzy’ Misra, was equally philosophical after the game pointing out various factors that have contributed to their good run of form this season, which contrasted vastly from their torrid experiences of 2017.

“We learnt many valuable lessons after a horrible run last year. During our off season, we worked extremely hard on identifying our faults and putting structures in place to allow a smooth functioning of the club – but more importantly, allowing a hassle free club rugby experience for our players,” said Misra.

Misra went on to emphasise the hard work of the players and his management team in creating synergy at the Rhinos in sharing his vision of progressing to the higher levels of KZNRU Club Rugby.

“We have a four year plan and this is but Step 1. With the dedication and commitment as is evident from our players, staff and sponsors, I have high hopes that we can achieve this,” he said.

  AUTHOR
Rising Sun Overport

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