Sharks are out for revenge

2011-04-30 00:00

THERE may have been a smile and a twinkle in the eye, but coach John Plumtree was deadly serious when he said this week that the Sharks are in revenge mode for the crucial Super Rugby derby against the Stormers at Newlands tonight.

The Sharks were beaten 16-6 by the Stormers in the first round at King’s Park just a month back, but Plumtree has good reason to believe his side can hit back and overturn the Durban result.

“No beating about the bush, we’re after them,” Plumtree joked, but the importance of the contest has certainly added to the usual rivalry between these two sides.

Both Plumtree and Stormers coach Allister Coetzee have said the game will be played with Test-match intensity.

“The fact that Jean Deysel is back in the mix for the Sharks shows their intent,” said Coetzee. “

“We are expecting a heck of a physical game so it is going to require all 22 of our players to front up to the challenge that is coming.

“This match definitely has a Test-match feel to it and there is a lot riding on it for both teams.”

Coetzee said the importance of the occasion also directly influenced his selection as he dumped youth in favour of experience. Former Bok fullback Conrad Jantjes was retained at fullback and Bryan Habana is back on the wing while the young Danie Poolman and Johann Sadie have been dropped.

“It is going to be important to have experienced players there as it’s going to be a really tough derby game. We know how the Sharks will still be hurting from the first-round defeat we inflicted on them in Durban,” Coetzee said.

Coetzee lost some of his experience yesterday when flyhalf Peter Grant failed a late fitness test and rookie Lionel Cronje will be at the hub of the Stormers.

“Bash (Grant) has not recovered sufficiently from his knee injury and we won’t risk him,” said Coetzee.

Plumtree admits that the globetrotting Sharks were found out by the fired-up Stormers in Durban. “They caught us last time but we feel we are better now. We are looking forward to the game and I am sure they are and they will have a full Newlands behind them.”

A Stormers win will take them seven points clear of the Sharks and they will need that cushion as they face the Crusaders before their overseas tour, with games against the Chiefs, Blues, Brumbies and Rebels.

Conversely, a Sharks triumph would take them to the top of the South African conference log and they will have the advantage of being based in Durban for all their remaining games.

The roles are neatly reversed today. The Stormers, on April 2, were at King’s Park determined to avenge their Currie Cup final defeat and they caught the listless Sharks without injured flyhalf Pat Lambie.

Today the Sharks are talking revenge with the Stormers missing their first-choice flyhalf while last week’s bye may have broken their momentum.

The Sharks have certainly had the better of the Cape Town-based team in recent years with domination of the gainline the basic ingredient in their winning recipe.

A couple of weeks ago, in Durban, Schalk Burger and his Stormers backrow more than matched Willem Alberts and company and played a pivotal role in the Sharks’ defeat. The collisions will be as fierce today, but this time the Sharks should be better prepared.

The contest will be between the best defenders (Stormers) and attackers (Sharks) in the competition.

The Stormers have conceded only six tries in eight games while the Sharks have notched up bonus points for four or more tries in five outings.

John Smit’s Sharks are clearly hoping that they will ride out the early passion of the home team before their bench, led by Bismarck du Plessis, powers them to victory in the last quarter.

The Sharks have the coach, the captain, the physicality and the high-tempo game to overcome the Stormers’ home ground advantage, their bruising backrow and the superiority of their outside backs.

But don’t go shouting that from the rooftops.

TEAMS:

Stormers – 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (captain), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Wicus Blaauw.

Replacements 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Brok Harris, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nick Koster, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Juan de Jongh

Sharks – 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Beast Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Alistair Hargreaves, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Adi Jacobs, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (RSA).

Kick-off: 7.10pm (SS1). Curtain-raiser: WP vs Sharks XV

(Vodacom Cup quarter-final, 4.20pm)

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