Tough, close en­counter ex­pected

Weekend Witness - - Sport -

quick ball from the break­down and their op­po­nents have found ways of clos­ing down or slow­ing their game.

The re­sult is that scrumhalf Charl McLeod, who has also picked up the nasty Rory Kock­ott habit of run­ning a cou­ple of steps be­fore pass­ing, and fly­half Pat Lam­bie have been un­able to pro­vide the slick ser­vice, the spark, which was a fea­ture of the Sharks’ suc­cess­ful Cur­rie Cup cam­paign.

There have been patches of good rugby in re­cent weeks — signs that their quick, flow­ing game is re­turn­ing — but the Sharks have yet to play to their full po­ten­tial. They have be­come a one-half team and it will re­quire an 80-minute ef­fort to down the Bulls tonight.

The Bulls have to be matched phys­i­cally if their brawn and kick­ing game is to be negated. The Sharks’ bruis­ers, Willem Al­berts, Jean Dey­sel and Bis­marck du Plessis, will worry the Bulls, but the en­ergy and high workrate of sus­pended flank Kee­gan Daniel, both on at­tack and de­fence, will be missed.

The Sharks’ all-Bok front-row of the Du Plessis brothers and the Beast should give them the edge in the scrums, but the Bulls have the li­ne­out edge and the battle on the gain­line will be de­ci­sive.

With a dozen Test play­ers in each team, there will be nu­mer­ous sideshows and head-to-head con­tests, most no­tably be­tween fly­halves Pat Lam­bie and Morné Steyn, Charl McLeod and Fourie du Preez at the base, num­ber eights Willem Al­berts and Pierre Spies, and li­ne­out jumpers Alis­tair Har­g­reaves and Vic­tor Mat­field.

It prom­ises to be tough, hard and close, but the Sharks now have to lift them­selves, as the Storm­ers did in the sec­ond half in Auck­land yes­ter­day, and prove to both friend and foe that they are also gen­uine Su­per Rugby con­tenders.

TEAMS Sharks – 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndun­gane, 13 Ste­fan Terblanche (c), 12 Meyer Bos­man, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Pat Lam­bie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Willem Al­berts, 7 Jean Dey­sel, 6 Jac­ques Botes, 5 Alis­tair Har­g­reaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jan­nie du Plessis, 2 Bis­marck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira. Re­place­ments: 16 Craig Bur­den, 17 Eu­gene van Staden, 18 Ger­hard Mostert, 19 Mar­cel Coet­zee, 20 Con­rad Hoff­mann, 21 Adi Jacobs, 22 Lwazi Mvovo. Bulls – 15 Zane Kirch­ner, 14 Bjorn Bas­son, 13 Jaco Pre­to­rius, 12 Wy­nand Olivier, 11 Fran­cois Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 De­wald Pot­gi­eter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Vic­tor Mat­field (c), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chili­boy Rale­pelle, 1 Dean Greyling. Re­place­ments: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Ros­souw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Danie Ros­souw, 20 Der­ick Kuün, 21 Fran­cois Brum­mer, 22 Ger­hard van den Heever. Ref­eree: Bryce Lawrence (NZ). Kick-off: 7.10 pm (SS1).

PHOTO: GALLO I MAGES

Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira will be ex­pected to dom­i­nate the scrums for thee Sharks when they meet the Bulls in Dur­ban tonight.

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