Newlands showdown

2015-03-07 00:00

The Sharks face their fourth consecutive South African derby tonight when they take on the Stormers at Newlands. The hosts are on a three-match winning streak while the Sharks are still looking to put together back-to-back wins. A number of Springboks are back for both teams, serving up some crunching head-to-head battles. After a disappointing loss to the Bulls last week, the Sharks will be looking to four key players to nullify their opposite numbers...


JP Pietersen vs Juan de Jongh

JP Pietersen

The Springbok wing has become a more versatile footballer in the past two years and makes his Super Rugby return at outside centre in place of Waylon Murray. Over the past three weeks, the Sharks haven’t been able to fully use their outside backs. A lack of go forward and wet weather has seen the Durban side use the boot more than they would have liked, but with Pietersen, Lwazi Mvovo and Odwa Ndungane attacking the wider channels tonight, Pat Lambie will do well to get the ball out wide. Pietersen has played many seasons with Steyn and the pair should gel tonight.

Juan de Jongh

De Jongh is unlucky to not have accrued more Springbok caps during his career but that has not stopped him from performing for the Cape outfit. Despite his diminutive stature, De Jongh is an incredibly strong ball runner with an equally dangerous step – which has punished the Sharks in years past. He’s enjoying the Stormers’ more balanced playing style. Alongside Damien de Allende, the Stormers have a formidable and fast midfield which will be crucial in stopping the Sharks’ momentum off set-play. A good showing against Pietersen won’t do De Jongh’s Bok World Cup chances any harm.


Frans Steyn vs Damian de Allende

Frans Steyn

Sharks director of Rugby Gary Gold said only “half” of the Springbok centre returned to Durban this week – referring to the tip-top shape Steyn is in having just completed a season in Japan. He certainly does look lean and mean and fans shouldn’t be surprised if a lighter Steyn has more of a roll as a distributor and kicker as opposed to his “battering ram” style of play. His return to the Sharks midfield should also bring a calming presence and take pressure off Lambie. He will have to get up to Super Rugby speed quickly. Facing an on-form De Allende, the Sharks will look to Steyn for some telling tackles.

Damian de Allende

The Springbok centre, capped last year, has shifted to inside centre to fill the void left by injured Bok captain Jean de Villiers and has done a fantastic job to date. De Allende is powerfully built and has an impressive turn of pace which he has put to good use in the first few rounds of Super Rugby.

The Stormers have used him as a strike runner off set-pieces and he often punches over the advantage line getting them good go forward momentum.

He comes up against an experienced campaigner in Steyn and their clash could be the one to watch.


Ryan Kankowski vs Duane Vermeulen

Ryan Kankowski

The journeyman Springbok eighthman joins an elite club tonight as he runs out for his 100th Super Rugby cap, a well deserved achievement for the Sharks stalwart. The rangy number 8 has always played well for his side and his exceptional running game suits the Sharks. He had a good run against the Bulls last week and scored a great try in his first match of the season. Tonight’s tough task is taking on the incumbent Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen. Kankowski has the running game to match Vermeulen, but needs to up his intensity on defence and in the tight phases to nullify the Stormers captain.

Duane Vermeulen

The Springboks were fortunate that Vermeulen lasted through a taxing 2014 season and despite the heavy workload, the Stormers captain played outstanding rugby all year round – earning him a nomination for IRB player of the year. He was dominant against the Bulls in their season opener. He is hard as nails with ball in hand and crashes into defensive lines like a younger Schalk Burger. His defensive work is ferocious. Vermeulen will have a busy night though, as Kankowski is backed by powerful Springboks flanks Marcell Coetzee and the returning Willem Alberts on either side of the scrum.


Pieter-Steph du Toit vs Eben Etzebeth

Pieter-Steph du Toit

The Springbok lock has enjoyed a fine return to rugby after a lengthy injury lay-off that saw him miss most of the 2014 season. But, the 22-year-old looked like he hadn’t missed a game and has brought great stability to the Sharks scrums and especially the lineouts. Victor Matfield reminded Du Toit that he has plenty to learn about the game last weekend but he still performed around the park. Du Toit will have his load slightly lessened by the return of Alberts, giving the Sharks a lot more grunt in their pack. The battle at the lineout will be crucial and it will be up to Du Toit and Eben Etzebeth to secure possession for their respective sides.

Eben Etzebeth

The massive Springbok lock makes his first Super Rugby appearance of the season after recovering from a chest injury picked up in pre-season. He comes straight into the starting line-up to bulk up the Stormers pack, which will come in handy in the return of Willem Alberts in the Sharks pack. Etzebeth will be eager to hit the ground running and will be used as a primary ball runner to get his side over the advantage line. He will be tested at line-out time as Du Toit has been terrific in that department. Bok coach Heyneke Meyer will be watching their rivalry closely as the pair will likely be the incumbent lock pairing in years to come.

Sharks: SP Marais, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Cobus Reinach, Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Matt Stevens, Bismarck du Plessis (c), Thomas du Toit. Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick, Lourens Adriaanse, Marco Wentzel, Renaldo Bothma, Conrad Hoffmann, Andre Esterhuizen, Jack Wilson.

Stormers: Cheslin Kolbe, Johnny Kotze, Juan de Jongh, Damian de Allende, Dillyn Leyds, Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom, Duane Vermeulen (c), Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Manuel Carizza, Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Neil Rautenbach, Alistair Vermaak, Frans Malherbe, Jean Kleyn, Schalk Burger, Louis Schreuder, Kurt Coleman, Huw Jones.

Today’s Super Rugby fixtures

Blues vs Lions - 8.35 am

Reds vs Waratahs - 10.40 am

Cheetahs vs Bulls - 5.05 pm

Stormers vs Sharks - 7.10 pm

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.