Sharks wary of the Griquas threat
THE Sharks could be forgiven for looking ahead at their schedule all misty-eyed with a run of three home games in a row to finish off the regular season.
However, before all those home comforts, they need to deal with a tricky fixture against the Griquas this evening at 5pm, in Kimberley.
The Griquas may be bottom of the log but if the word from the Sharks tank is to believed, there won’t be any easing off.
The Sharks are on a winning streak of seven games in a row, with the only loss their bizarre first one against the Cheetahs.
They are comfortably ahead on the log, especially if you consider the Cheetahs may not win another game in this competition as their C-side does the business. The Sharks are on 34 points with the Cheetahs on 25 and then Western Province the next real threat on 22.
There is room for a loss, and there is almost a nervy wait to see when this fantastic run will all come crumbling down. But, if you speak to the coach, he is only looking for improvement.
“This game is really important because we want to take our game to the next level,” Robert du Preez said sternly.
“Our performance against the Pumas, was not good enough for this team. This team is capable of a lot better, and we should be going to the next level.”
Indeed, the Sharks skimmed through in their last game against the Pumas at Mbombela. They trailed the Pumas by 10 points with about 20 minutes to go before a late try by Rhyno Smith secured the two-point win.
A good result. Not a good performance. For today’s match the coach has demanded a strong performance as a precursor to what will be a massive last three games.
While at Kings Park, it is still the Lions, Bulls and Western Province that need to be dealt with before hopefully a home semi-final, and home final.
The Griquas will not however be a training ground run for the Sharks.
“We are playing in Kimberley now which is a tough environment,” Du Preez admitted. “They like to throw the ball around and are not scared to have a go. We are going to concentrate on our game, and that is to have a good performance, that is what we need, especially going into the last few games at home.”
The Sharks have made a few changes for this match, some injury enforced, and some for rotation.
Thomas du Toit and Akker van der Merwe move to the bench for Juan Schoeman and Franco Marais while Tyler Paul goes from lock to flank for Jacques Vermeulen, who has earned a break. Odwa Ndungane is back from injury and Lukhanyo Am is out with an ankle complaint, so Marius Louw slots in.