Crunch time for Sharks

2011-02-05 00:00

AFTER taking a beating from the Lions in midweek, and a roasting from their coach all week, the Sharks will be looking for a dramatic improvement when they take on the Stormers in their Tri-Series friendly at Newlands this evening.

The Sharks, fielding a dozen Springboks, took a 41-10 thumping from a rebuilding Lions team at Newlands on Tuesday night and head coach John Plumtree has since highlighted the disappointing lack of commitment and desire of his players.

“I don’t know why we lacked the necessary excitement against the Lions, but we did. I am confident though that the reaction to that defeat will have inspired the excitement that was lacking,” said Plumtree.

“The Lions scored six tries against us, but that does not mean we have a problem with our defensive system. Three of the tries were from driving mauls and the others were from individual bits of brilliance, such as chip kicks, that we could not do much about.

“It’s all about getting us ready for Super Rugby and about highlighting what we need to work on and taking steps forward in certain aspects of our play. In that sense the Lions game served a purpose and we will be looking to the Stormers game to take a further step forward.”

The guest list at Butch James’s wedding in Durban today includes Sharks captain John Smit and Stormers’ Springboks Schalk Burger and Jean de Villiers. But there are still a host of high profile players on display and, indeed, all seven Sharks’ backs have played for the Springboks. There are four more in the pack — five if Bismarck du Plessis, bracketed with Craig Burden at hooker, is passed fit — and more than enough talent to trouble the Stormers in front of their home crowd.

The Sharks line-out, with locks four and five (Gerhard Moster and Anton Bressler) in action following injury (to Hargreaves, Sykes and Skeate), could battle against the Stormers lighthouse Andries Bekker, but the Sharks are competently served in all other areas.

“There are a lot of teams who have built up their depth impressively for Super Rugby, and I would count us as one of them,” said Plumtree. “We have at least two good players in most positions.

“When it becomes problematic, though, is when there are a whole lot of injuries in the same position, and we have certainly been placed under stress for the game against the Stormers by the injuries at lock.”

Plumtree said that flank Keegan Daniel, who was overlooked for the Cape Town trip because of a minor injury, could be flown down from Durban to join the bench.

Pat Lambie spent most of Tuesday night’s game at fullback after the injury to Louis Ludik and Plumtree has selected him at flyhalf today with Odwa Ndungane in the last line of defence.

In the absence of Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger, the Stormers are blooding Wimpie van der Walt on the flank while Paul Bosch is at inside-centre.

The Sharks, shellshocked after their heavy mid-week defeat, will be desperate to improve in all areas tonight. And if they succeed in that objective, while finding some cohesion and confidence and steering clear of any further injuries, then they will still return to Durban with their heads up.

TEAMS

Stormers: Conrad Jantjes, Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Paul Bosch, Bryan Habana, Gary van Aswegen, Ricky Januarie, Duane Vermeulen, Rynhardt Elstadt, Wimpie van der Walt, Andries Bekker (captain), De Kock Steenkamp, Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, CJ van der Linde.

Reserves: Siyabonga Ntubeni, Wicus Blaauw, Frans Malherbe, Adriaan Fondse, Pieter Louw, Rohan Kitschoff, Dewaldt Duvenage, Elgar Watts, Johann Sadie, Tim Whitehead, Danie Poolman, Lionel Cronje.

Sharks: Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Stefan Terblanche (captain), Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Charl McLeod, Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts, Jacques Botes, Anton Bresler, Gerhard Mostert, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis/Craig Burden, Tendai Mtawarira.

Reserves: Bismarck du Plessis/Craig Burden, Eugene van Staden, Daniel Adonga, Conrad Hoffmann, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Jacques Engelbrecht, Riaan Swanepoel, Adrian Jacobs, Mark Richards.

ON TV

Kickoff: 5 pm – live on M-Net and SuperSport 2

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