Sharks to pack strong­est punch

The Star Late Edition - - SPORT - MIKE GREENAWAY

THE Sharks are gear­ing up for what coach Robert du Preez de­scribes as a Cur­rie Cup “quar­ter-fi­nal” against WP 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, the wary 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 play-off 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. Post-bye games of­ten pose a chal­lenge for teams,” he said.

“We have had a bit of a dis­rup­tive week. The storm on Tues­day took care of train­ing but we had a fan­tas­tic ses­sion to­day (Thurs­day),” he added. “We will be ready come game time.”

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 and re­sum­ing at out­side cen­tre. Tris­tan Blewett drops to the bench.

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.

Prov­ince have plenty rid­ing on the game – an up­set win will se­cure them a home semi-fi­nal – and Du Preez says the Sharks are pre­par­ing ac­cord­ingly.

“They are get­ting guys back from the Boks (tight­head Wilco Louw and wing Dil­lyn Leyds) and they will be com­ing to play some se­ri­ous rugby,” Du Preez said. “It will be a big team ef­fort from them. They like to at­tack out wide, so our de­fence will have to very strong.”

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.

“They have been scrum­ming re­ally well. I think the set scrums are go­ing to be hotly con­tested,” Du Preez agreed. “And Wilco will give them an added boost. I think the set pieces are go­ing to be a big bat­tle. Both packs have been go­ing well.”

The Sharks are un­beaten at home in the Cur­rie Cup and the early kick-off for the Odwa Ndunange Trib­ute game could draw a good crowd.

TEAMS

SHARKS: Garth April, Odwa Ndun­gane, Lukhanyo Am, Mar­ius Louw, S’bu Nkosi, Cur­win Bosch, Michael Claassens, Dan du Preez, Jac­ques Ver­meulen, Kee­gan Daniel, Ruan Botha (c), Tyler Paul, Ross Gelden­huys, Franco Marais, Thomas du Toit. RE­PLACE­MENTS: Chili­boy Rale­pelle, Juan Schoe­man, Jean Droste, Jean-Luc du Preez, Louis Schreuder, Tris­tan Blewett, Kobus van Wyk. WESTERN PROV­INCE: Damian Willemse, Se­abelo Se­natla, Huw Jones, Ruhan Nel, Dil­lyn Leyds, Robert du Preez, De­waldt Du­ve­nage, 8 Nizaam Carr, Cobus Wiese, Jaco Coet­zee, JD Schick­er­ling, Chris van Zyl (c), Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, JC Janse van Rens­burg. RE­PLACE­MENTS: Ra­mone Sa­muels, Caylib Oosthuizen, Jan de Klerk, Sikhum­buzo Not­she, Justin Phillips, Werner Kok, EW Viljoen.

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