Province’s young guns out to test Sharks’ big boys in Newlands clash

2011-08-12 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree is banking on a couple of old campaigners dousing the enthusiasm of Western Province’s sprightly newcomers in the big Currie Cup bash at Newlands, Cape Town, this evening.

The teams were both defeated at altitude last weekend, Province going down narrowly to the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein while the Sharks were dismal losers to Griquas in Kimberley.

In terms of experience and Springbok caps the Sharks have an obvious edge, but the young Province players have surprised even their home support with their vigour and commitment this season.

Just a fortnight back they upstaged and bullied the Blue Bulls in a 35-7 win at Newlands and they will be determined to out-muscle the Sharks tonight.

Plumtree was unhappy with the showing of several of his senior players in Kimberley, but only one of them, centre Meyer Bosman, felt the axe and it was the youngsters in the squad — Mark Richards, Sibusiso Sithole, Ross Cronje, Wiehahn Herbst and Jan Andre Marais — who have had to give way to more experienced players.

Plumtree will tonight field a backline containing six internationals, fullback Louis Ludik is the exception, and he will be looking to scrumhalf Charl Mcleod and Pat Lambie at inside centre to add some spark and rhythm to the backplay.

Tighthead prop Eugene van Staden and lock Ross Skeate, along with Craig Burden, captain Keegan Daniel and Ryan Kankowski, add experience to the pack, but they will be tested by the eager young Province forwards at the breakdown.

Plumtree initially named a loose trio of Daniel, Marcell Coetzee and Jacques Botes, but Kankowski was released by the Boks after the team was named and yesterday the Sharks coach reshuffled his back row.

Daniel has switched to flank in place of Jacques Botes, who drops to the bench, and Kankwoski will be at number eight.

Province rely heavily on pace with a mobile loose trio in Nick Koster, Siya Kolisi and Ruan Kitshoff, while their outside backs, Danie Poolman, Johann Sadie, Tim Whitehead and JJ Engelbrecht will test the Sharks’ defences.

Province coach Allister Coetzee yesterday described the Sharks “as a formidable team”.

“They have internationals in almost every position in the backline and a very competitive pack. It is going to be a great challenge for us, but we have prepared well. We made mistakes [against Free State] last week and we have to be more accurate.

“It is a big game for our youngsters, but we are trying to build a squad that has the experience to take into the future and a game like this, even against tough opposition like the Sharks, is the place to get it.”

After the frustrations and loss in Kimberley, Plumtree has been all over his players, warning them that they face a tough challenge at Newlands.

“Province are an excellent side, even without so many of their big-name players. They could have won that game in Bloemfontein.

“Province have some outstanding depth and we clearly have to lift it up a couple levels if we want to compete down in Cape Town. That’s what we’re focused on this week. We know we’re capable if we perform at our very best.”

The Sharks have performed poorly in two away games this season, in Nelspruit and Kimberley, while winning well against the Cheetahs and the Blue Bulls in Durban.

“But you have to win games away from home if you want to get a home semi-final or final. We’re ready to go this week and the players are pretty determined.”

The Sharks have the bigger name players, the half-dozen Springboks and the experience; Province have all the advantages of youth and are excited to be back home with the chance to bring down the current champions.

It should make for a close and intriguing contest.

TEAMS

Sharks:

15. Louis Ludik, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Stefan Terblanche, 12. Patrick Lambie, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Frederic Michalak, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Marcell Coetzee, 6. Keegan Daniel (captain), 5. Ross Skeate, 4. Anton Bresler, 3. Eugene van Staden, 2. Craig Burden, 1. Dale Chadwick.

Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Jan Andre Marais, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Conrad Hoffmann, 21. Adrian Jacobs, 22. Marius Joubert.

Western Province:

15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Rohan Kitshoff, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie (captain), 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Adriaan Fondse, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Berton Klaasen, 22 Marcel Brache.

Referee: Lourens van der Merwe. Kick-off: 7.10 pm (television coverage on SS).

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