Sharks wary of the Gri­quas threat

The Mercury - - SPORT - Dar­ryn Pol­lock

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.

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