Sharks lose crucial pairing

2014-03-27 00:00

THE clash between the table-topping Sharks and the Waratahs should provide some insight as to how the men from Durban will cope without their halfback pair of Pat Lambie and Cobus Reinach.

Before the season began, Sharks coach Jake White identified the Sydneysiders, along with the reigning champions Chiefs, as being the main threats in this year’s Super Rugby campaign.

The Sharks and Waratahs have had good starts to the year so far, despite losing their local derbys against possible challengers for their respective conferences.

It will be interesting to see how White’s charges react to the loss of crucial players like Lambie and Reinach. It was at this point last season where it all began to unravel for the injury hit Sharks and they were unable to recover, despite starting the competition with three consecutive victories.

Apart from last Saturday, the Sharks have been able to take a stranglehold and dominate sides up front. They have been strong at the breakdown and their scrum has fared well against teams who have come to the Shark Tank.

Even among the back, there have been positive things to say. While they have welcomed JP Pietersen back from Japan, they will be without Lambie for the rest of the Super Rugby campaign, Reinach for six weeks and centre Paul Jordaan for another two weeks.

Jordaan revealed on his Twitter page yesterday that he was expecting to be back on the field for their game against the Lions at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

Without Lambie, White can either choose to play Fred Zeilinga in the number 10 jersey or he shift Frans Steyn to flyhalf, and select one of Andre Esterhuizen or Heimar Williams at inside centre. But with Zeilinga having impressed last season at flyhalf, he could be given the role to marshal the Sharks’ backs.

There is also the option of selecting the precociously talented Tim Swiel who was handed his Super Rugby debut at Loftus against the Bulls last week.

Charl McLeod at scrumhalf picks himself.

With the Sharks packing a number of Springboks in their arsenal, the Wara­tahs should also come to Durban armed with Wallabies (and a Bok).

They are on the back of a powering 32-8 win over the Melbourne Rebels and should be confident to get the result against the Sharks.

But they will be without Israel Folau. The Aussie flier who scored eight tries in the whole of last season has already matched that number this year with just four games played. Without him, the Waratahs will be stripped of a very important weapon at the back.

But the Sharks shouldn’t discount the dangerous centre pairing of Kurtley Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Saturday’s game will start at King’s Park at 5.05 pm.


Sharks (predicted): 15. S.P. Marais, 14. J.P. Pietersen, 13. S’bura Sithole, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Fred Zeilinga, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Anton Bresler, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Waratahs: 15. Jono Lance, 14. Rob Horne, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Kurtley Beale, 11. Peter Betham, 10. Bernard Foley, 9. Nick Phipps, 8. Wycliff Palu, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Dave Dennis (captain), 5. Kane Douglas, 4. Jacques Potgieter, 3. Sekope Kepu, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1. Benn Robinson.

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