Battle for top spot

2013-10-10 00:00

THE Sharks and Western Province have both included five of their returning Springboks in their starting line-ups for Saturday night’s Currie Cup crunch outing at King’s Park that will decide which team finishes top of the log.

While the Sharks will start with flyhalf Pat Lambie on the bench, and will be without the injured Test flank Willem Alberts, Western Province have opted to include the in-form but weary Springbok captain Jean de Villiers on the bench.

The Sharks will field the Test front-row of Beast Mtawarira and the Du Plessis brothers, Jannie and Bismarck. They are joined by Bok squad members, lock Pieter-Steph du Toit and flank Marcell Coetzee, in a revamped pack.

Dropping out of the starting line-up are Dale Chadwick, Kyle Cooper, Wiehahn Herbst, Stephan Lewies, Jacques Botes and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, who is replaced by Charl McLeod in the only change to the backline.

The four Boks starting for WP are centre Juan de Jongh, backrowers Duane Vermeulen and Siya Kolisi, and lock Eben Etzebeth.

De Villiers will join fellow Springbok Schalk Burger, who is making his way back after months of rehab.

Flank Rynhardt Elstadt (shoulder injury) was not considered.

Coach Allister Coetzee said that he had selected his strongest possible line-up “taking into account the well-being of Jean de Villiers”.

“We will be doing our best to pick up a win and finish the league phase of the Currie Cup unbeaten.”

Flank Jean Deysel said the Sharks had been buoyed by the return of the Springboks.

“It’s brilliant. They bring experience and a different dimension to the side.”

He said the Springboks had slotted in seamlessly at training.

“They’re going to play a massive part on Saturday and in the games to come,” the muscular Deysel said, adding the Sharks were anticipating a massive battle.

“Province have a quality side. They’ve got a big bunch of forwards and they are physical as well. But we’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s going to be a tough one and one of those games you remember.”

The Sharks conceded 17 penalties in beating the Blue Bulls last Friday and Deysel said there had been a heavy emphasis on discipline at training this week.

“Discipline plays a massive role at this stage of the season when any penalty can end up costing you three or seven points.”

He said both teams would be determined to build momentum among the forwards, both at the setpiece and the breakdown.

WP’s backrow of Deon Fourie, Siya Kolisi and Duane Vermeulen with Schalk Burger on the bench were an obvious threat, he said.

“You can pick a Springbok team out of their loosies. But we also have got some good loose forwards and a quality pack. So at the end of the day it’s going to be who ends up on top from a physical side.”

Deysel said that all the Sharks knew that the Springboks would be included on their return.

“Brendan [Venter] has been honest with us so everybody knew what was happening.”

The Sharks and WP have already confirmed home ground advantage for next weekend’s semi-finals and the winner on Saturday will top the Currie Cup log and will be in pole position to host the final.

Saturday’s match kicks off at 7.10 pm and Jonathan Kaplan will be the referee.

TEAMS

Sharks: 15. SP Marais, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Tim Whitehead, 12. Heimar Williams, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Fred Zeilinga, 9. Charl Mc-Leod, 8. Keegan Daniel (c), 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Peet Marais, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Stephan Lewies, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Cobus Reinach, 21. Patrick Lambie, 22. Louis Ludik.

Western Province: 15. Gio Aplon, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Cheslin Kolbe, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Siya Kolisi, 6. Deon Fourie (c), 5. De Kock Steenkamp, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff Replacements: 16. Frans Malherbe, 17. Brok Harris, 18. Michael Rhodes, 19. Schalk Burger, 20. Nic Groom, 21. Kurt Coleman, 22. Jean de Villiers.

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