Sharks won't mess with winning combination

2009-02-19 00:00

JOHN Plumtree is expected to name an unchanged Sharks starting line-up for Saturday's Super 14 game against the Lions in Durban, but there will probably be a change on the bench as Bok prop Beast Mtawarira makes his return.

Head coach Plumtree will name his match squad today and, with all the players coming through the Newlands opener against the Stormers with no more than cuts and bruises, he is unlikely to tamper with the winning combination.

Assistant coach Grant Bashford said yesterday that flank Keegan Daniel, who suffered a badly cut lip, was still uncomfortable, "but it will not prevent him playing".

Deon Carstens has also recovered from the hamstring problem that almost kept him out of the Stormers game and he will start on the loosehead.

Bashford said that Mtawarira had trained well this week and he could make a return to the bench in place of Melusi Mthethwa.

Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis, who was on the replacement bench at Newlands and had a productive final quarter, is being eased back into action and he will probably be amongst the substitutes again with John Smit, who was in superb form in Cape Town, again starting in the middle of the front-row.

Further good news for the Sharks is that Bok lock Albert van den Berg is rapidly returning to full fitness and he has also been at training this week.

Van den Berg has been passed fit to travel with the Sharks when they leave for New Zealand on Sunday, while centre/wing Waylon Murray will join up with the tour squad after the first week.

The Sharks, dodging the heat, will wrap up their preparations with a 7 am practice today.

The Lions, who beat the Cheetahs in the opening round, are also expected to name an unchanged team.

Coach Loffie Eloff said the team have made an "ideal start to the season".

"Although it was close at the end, I felt we dominated the Cheetahs, where in the past it was the other way around."

He said he was concerned at lapses in concentration midway through the second half, which cost the Lions a number of tries.

"But we achieved our goal of scoring five points, and that's all that matters.

"From a technical point of view, our lineouts were a problem, as were some of the one-on-one tackles. These will be our main focus point for this week.

"We are looking forward to this weekend.

"We know it will be tough in Durban, but we are looking forward to the battle."

Saturday's match kicks off at 7.10 pm.

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