Du Preez pre­par­ing for a quar­ter-fi­nal against WP

Cape Times - - SPORT - Mike Green­away

DUR­BAN: The Sharks are gear­ing up for what coach Robert du Preez de­scribes as a Cur­rie Cup “quar­ter-fi­nal” against West­ern Prov­ince at Kings Park to­mor­row (3pm), with all the at­ten­dant fo­cus that goes with a do-or-die match.

It is the last round of the Cur­rie Cup be­fore next week’s semi-fi­nals and with the Sharks hav­ing won 10 in a row to top the log, Du Preez is tak­ing no chances as the com­pe­ti­tion winds up to crunch time. He wants 11 out of 11 be­fore the home semi-fi­nal next week.

“This game is really im­por­tant and we are giv­ing it play­off sta­tus,” Du Preez said “Of course we want to have mo­men­tum go­ing into the semis and you al­ways have to be care­ful when you are com­ing back from a break,” he said.

“We have had a bit of dis­rup­tive week. The storm on Tues­day took care of train­ing but we had a fan­tas­tic ses­sion to­day (yes­ter­day).” he added.The coach has made just one change to the side that beat the Li­ons two weeks ago in Dur­ban ahead of last week’s bye, with Lukhanyo Am fi­nally over in­jury re­sum­ing at out­side cen­tre. Tris­tan Blewett drops to the bench.

“We are very pleased to have the guys back from the Boks, and we want to play them off the bench, which means the guys that did well against the Li­ons have an­other op­por­tu­nity to start,” the coach said.

Du Preez said that with most of the squad hav­ing game time to­mor­row, he would be in a good po­si­tion to pick the best start­ing line-up for next week’s semi-fi­nal. It means a pow­er­ful bench that thus in­cludes Chili­boy Rale­pelle, Jean-Luc du Preez and Louis Schreuder, as well as wing Kobus van Wyk who, like Am, is over in­jury.

The re­turn of Rale­pelle and the start­ing berth for Franco Marais means there is no place for for­mer Li­ons hooker Akker van der Merwe, an in­di­ca­tion of the qual­ity of depth the Sharks have in some po­si­tions.

Prov­ince have also shown that they have one of the bet­ter scrums in the Cur­rie Cup and made a point against the Li­ons in their match in Jo­han­nes­burg last week.

The Sharks are un­beaten at home in the Cur­rie Cup (their sole loss was when an un­der­strength team lost to the full­strength Chee­tahs in Bloem­fontein in the first round) and the early kick-off for the Odwa Ndunange Trib­ute game could draw a good crowd.

“We are hop­ing so,” said Du Preez, who is big on re-es­tab­lish­ing Kings Park as a feared fortress for vis­it­ing teams.

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