‘Sharks could upset Bulls in Durban’

2013-05-21 00:00

BACKLINE coach Hugh Reece-Edwards believes the Sharks can continue their revival by upsetting the Bulls in Saturday night’s Super Rugby derby at King’s Park.

The Bulls (46 points), second on the overall log and with a handy six-point lead in the South African conference, will be firm favourites to beat the Sharks (33 points).

And if the Bulls prevail on Saturday and then overcome the second-placed Cheetahs (40) in Bloemfontein a week later, they will almost certainly been out of sight in the South African conference and will have home ground advantage in the play-offs.

But Reece-Edwards believes the Sharks can still make a nuisance of themselves in the competition.

“There is no doubt among our players. We’ve been able to beat the Bulls before and there is no reason why we cannot do it again.

“We need to be accurate and we need to play the rugby we know we can play.

“This is D-Day for us, the really important one.

“We play the Bulls twice in the next three rounds [either side of the June break] and we hold our destiny in our hands,” he said.

Reece-Edwards said the win over the Force had lifted the mood in the dressing-room.

“That win was really what we were after, and if you look at the stats, just 40% possession and 30% territory, we were really nowhere in that game.

“But the guys kept their heads and came through in the end.”

He said the regular injuries picked up on tour were obviously a major problem.

“Now JP [Pietersen] is also out and our depth, especially among the backs, is really being tested.”

Sharks head coach John Plumtree said the win over the Force was critical.

“The mood in the squad is a lot better than it has been for the last five weeks. Obviously the confidence of the boys has taken a knock so the win was hugely important for us.

“We needed to get some confidence back into the players so the victory brings plenty of relief. It was important for many reasons.”

The Sharks could have both hooker Bismarck du Plessis and flyhalf Butch James back this weekend. Neither has played any rugby this year following surgery, but they have been cleared to rejoin the squad. It is highly unlikely that Plumtree will include them in the starting line-up, but both could play off the bench.

And if the Sharks were looking for any more positive omens, they received one shortly after returning to Durban after their month-long tour on Sunday.

Fullback Riaan Viljoen, who scored the match-winning try in the second half in Perth, had been home less than 24 hours when his wife Nicola delivered their third son yesterday morning.

In Pretoria, the Bulls are waiting to hear if Bok fullback Zane Kirchner, who has been sidelined with a fractured finger, will be cleared to play against the Sharks.

Hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle is nursing a bruised knee, but is expected to be ready for the Sharks while backrower Jacques Potgieter and prop Dean Greyling, who both missed the Highlanders game, have been cleared to play.

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