Am back for Sharks

Dur­ban side not tak­ing any chances as they make one change for clash against Prov­ince

The Witness - - SPORT - SITHEMBISO DINDI • sithembiso.dindi@wit­ness.co.za

THE Sharks may have con­firmed a home semi­fi­nal in the Cur­rie Cup a fort­night ago, and with some ease, but coach Robert du Preez nev­er­the­less named a strong team yes­ter­day to take on fired­up Western Prov­ince at King’s Park in Dur­ban to­mor­row.

Since the re­sult of this last match of the round­robin sec­tion won’t af­fect the top­placed Dur­ban­ites in the stand­ings, some may have ex­pected Du Preez to rest a few of his play­ers for the next round.

But, clearly, the coach and his men are look­ing to keep their win­ning mo­men­tum head­ing into the knock­out phase, hav­ing achieved 10 con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries.

Prov­ince, who are placed sec­ond on the log ta­ble, are still look­ing to se­cure the sec­ond home semi­fi­nal and a de­ feat could give pos­si­bil­i­ties to teams ly­ing be­hind them on the log.

From the Sharks team that de­feated the Golden Li­ons a fort­night ago, Du Preez only made one change, with cen­tre Lukhanyo Am com­ing back from in­jury.

And, hav­ing had their train­ing sched­ule dis­rupted by the storm on Tues­day as wa­ter flooded parts of their sta­dium, it was also im­per­a­tive for the coach not to tam­per too much with the team.

“This game is re­ally im­por­tant and we are ap­proach­ing it like a quar­ter­fi­nal,” said Du Preez yes­ter­day.

“It’s al­ways a chal­lenge com­ing from a bye and we were a bit dis­rupted this week with the storm we had on Tues­day, but we had a fan­tas­tic prac­tice yes­ter­day and I am happy with the prepa­ra­tions. And we will be ready on Satur­day [to­mor­row].”

Tris­tan Blewett, who wore the num­ber 13 jer­sey against the Li­ons, goes to the bench to make way for the tal­ented Am, while two play­ers who re­cently came back from Spring­bok duty — Chilli­boy Rale­pele and Jean­Luc du Preez — start on the bench for to­mor­row’s tie.

“We are very pleased with the guys that came back from the Boks, but I have al­ways said that it’s go­ing to be a squad ef­fort and I think we have achieved that,” the coach ex­plained.

“Ex­cept for Lukhanyo, who is start­ing after a knee nig­gle and an an­kle in­jury, we have kept the same side that played the last time against the Li­ons.

“We will try play­ing the Boks, the guys that came back, from the bench. I wanted to give the guys that have played well an­other an op­por­tu­nity and then we will select our side for the semi­fi­nal.”

While the Sharks’ Boks are start­ing on the bench, Prov­ince coach John Dob­son has se­lected Dil­lyn Leyds and Wilco Louw to start to­mor­row’s game, show­ing how se­ri­ous they are about get­ting a re­sult from the trip to Dur­ban.

The two men also re­cently re­turned from Bok duty and they will strengthen the back­line and front row re­spec­tively.

Prov­ince are only a point ahead of the Chee­tahs and two above the Li­ons with just one game re­main­ing, so fi­nal log po­si­tions could well look dif­fer­ent after the week­end’s ac­tion.

To­mor­row’s match in Dur­ban will be broad­cast live on Su­per­Sport 1 from 2.45 pm.

TEAMS

SHARKS: 15. Garth April, 14. Odwa Ndun­gane, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 12. Mar­ius Louw, 11. S’bu­siso Nkosi, 10. Cur­win Bosch, 9. Michael Claassens, 8. Dan du Preez, 7. Jac­ques Ver­meulen, 6. Kee­gan Daniel, 5. Ruan Botha (cap­tain), 4. Tyler Paul, 3. Ross Gelden­huys, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Thomas du Toit. Re­place­ments: 16. Chili­boy Rale­pelle, 17. Juan Schoe­man, 18. Jean Droste, 19. Jean­Luc du Preez, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Tris­tan Blewett, 22. Kobus van Wyk.

WESTERN PROV­INCE: 15. Damian Willemse, 14. Se­abelo Se­natla, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Ruhan Nel, 11. Dil­lyn Leyds, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. De­waldt Du­ve­nage, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Cobus Wiese, 6. Jaco Coet­zee, 5. JD Schick­er­ling, 4. Chris van Zyl (cap­tain), 3. Wilco Louw, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. JC Janse van Rens­burg.

Re­place­ments: 16. Ra­mone Sa­muels, 17. Caylib Oosthuizen, 18. Jan de Klerk, 19. Sikhum­buzo Not­she, 20. Justin Phillips, 21. Werner Kok, 22. EW Viljoen.

FIX­TURES To­day

Bulls v Pu­mas — 7 pm To­mor­row Sharks v WP — 3 pm Li­ons v Chee­tahs — 5.15 pm

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