Beast back to boost Sharks

2009-02-19 00:00

The Sharks and the Lions yesterday kept to the starting line-ups that brought them first round victories when they named their teams for the Super 14 clash at King’s Park tomorrow night.

Springbok loosehead Beast Mtawarira is now over his sternum injury and fit to return and Sharks head coach John Plumtree has named him on the bench, where he takes over from Melusi Mthethwa in the only change to the 22-man squad.

Plumtree is also easing Bok hooker Bismarck du Plessis back into the big time. Du Plessis, who had a lively final quarter against the Stormers after coming off the bench at the weekend, will remain among the substitutes with John Smit again starting at hooker.

Plumtree is convinced his players will improve on their Newlands form and they are unlikely to miss as many first-time tackles as they did against the Stormers.

Ruan Pienaar, still adapting at flyhalf and with a new combination at nine, 10 and 12, had a rare off-day, but he will certainly flourish once he settles, while veteran fullback Stefan Terblanche, one of the stars of last year, was surprisingly ragged in the first half when his kicking and catching suffered, and he failed to follow his own kicks with the usual enthusiasm. He improved markedly in the second half and rounded off the move that produced one of the better tries of the opening weekend.

Captain Johann Muller told the Sharks website that the Sharks will face the Lions with confidence.

“It was a really good start for us,” says Muller. “We knew it was going to be tough down at Newlands and we said from the beginning that if we beat them away from home it would be a bonus for us. To come back in the second half the way we did was a really special effort.

“In saying that, we were below par. I think we are still probably 50% below where we should be. If the Lions play the way they did against the Cheetahs, we’ll have to make a big improvement in our game if we want to beat them.

“We missed a few one-on-one tackles against the Stormers,” said the Sharks captain. “Both their tries came off silly one-on-one missed tackles and we also gave away a few penalties and free-kicks at ruck-time. If we can sort out those two areas, we’ll be all right.

“It’s going to be tough, that Lions are definitely not the same side that played in the Currie Cup and Super 14 last year. They are much better and they’ve grown up in the last six months.”

Lions coach Loffie Eloff has selected the same 22 players who were involved in the 34-28 victory over the Cheetahs at Ellis Park last weekend.

Eloff said he is keeping to his promise to take his time in managing the fitness of Bok flyhalf Andre Pretorius, who will again start on the bench with Earl Rose in the pivotal role.

“We know it will be tough in Durban, but we are looking forward to the battle,” said Eloff. “The Sharks have an impressive home record, but we have done well against them in the past and we know what we have to do.”

The Lions have a big, robust pack with prop Heinke van der Merwe and powerful number eight Willem Alberts certain to test the Sharks’ physical resolve. And back at King’s Park, eager to prove a point against old team-mates, will be former Sharks and Bok wing Henno Mentz.

South African Jonathan Kaplan will referee the game. Kick-off: 7.10 pm.

TEAMS:

Sharks: 15. Stefan Terblanche, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Adrian Jacobs, 12. Francois Steyn, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Ruan Pienaar, 9. Rory Kockott, 8. RyanKankowski, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Johann Muller (capt) 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. John Smit, 1. Deon Carstens.

Replacements: 16. Bismarck du Plessis, 17. Tendai Mtawarira, 18. Alistair Hargreaves, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Ross Cronje, 21. Riaan Swanepoel, 22. Luzuko Vulindlu.

Lions: 15. Louis Ludik, 14. Ashwin Willemse, 13. Jaque Fourie, 12. Doppies la Grange, 11. Henno Mentz, 10. Earl Rose, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Willem Alberts, 7. Franco van der Merwe, 6. Cobus Grobbelaar (capt) 4. Anton van Zyl, 5. Gerhard Mostert, 3. Gert Muller, 2. Willie Wepener, 1. Heinke van der Merwe.

Replacements: 16. Hans van Dyk,1 7. Lawrence Sephaka, 18. Rynard Landman, 19. Todd Clever, 20. Chris Jonck, 21. Andre Pretorius, 22. Jannie Boshoff.

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