Griquas win and Boks’ return could secure Sharks’ pole spot

2009-08-18 00:00

VICTORY over the log-leading Griquas at King’s Park on Saturday will leave the Sharks in pole position for the second round of the Currie Cup competition.

A win will not only provide the Sharks with a cushion of a couple of points at the top of the log for the se­ven second-round games, but John Plumtree’s side will be boosted by the return of 10 Springboks, if they are fit and flourishing, for the last four round robin games of the competition.

The Sharks have 10 players in the Springbok Tri-Nations squad and they will have completed their international duties before the return Free State game in Durban on September 19.

Only nine of them will be back for the Sharks as Frans Steyn is leaving Durban to play club rugby in France after the Tri-Nations tour.

The 10th returning Springbok will be lock and captain Johann Muller, who is expected to have recovered from his broken arm in time for the closing weeks of competition.

The Sharks play four of their se­cond-round games at home and three away. The home games include fixtures against three of the big four union­s (Western Province, Free State and the Lions).

The second round will throw up a number of testing games. Western Province beat the Sharks in the first round of the Currie Cup and they again face a below-strength team on August 29 in Durban. The Sharks take on the Blue Bulls at Loftus on September 12 and both teams will be missing their many Springboks. In their final league fixture (October 10), the Sharks travel to Kimberley to take on Griquas, a trip no Currie Cup side enjoys. However, they will have their Springboks along for the ride.

For the moment, though, the Sharks are focused on the Griquas match in Durban this Saturday (3.00 pm).

The Kimberley-based team only just lost their unbeaten record at the weekend when the Blue Bulls, up against 13 Griquas in the closing minutes, scored an injury-time try for a 25-24 win.

The Sharks hope to have their first-choice halfbacks Juan Martin Her­nandez and Rory Kockott up and running for the game, while they have a number of other players receiving treatment for light injuries following their excellent weekend win (30-19) over the Lions in Johannesburg.

Remaining Sharks fixtures:

August 22: v Griquas in Durban

August 29: v WP in Durban

September 4: v Boland in Wellington.

September 12: v Blue Bulls in Pretoria

September 19: v Free State in Durban

September 25: v leopards in Durban

October 3: v Lions in Durban

October 10: v Griquas in Kimberley.

Currie Cup play-offs:

October 17: Currie Cup semi-finals

October 31: Currie Cup final

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