Tough opener for Sharks

2010-07-10 00:00

THE Sharks face the most awkward of Currie Cup openers when they bump Griquas on their home patch in Kimberley this afternoon.

Griquas were the surprise packet in the first round of the Currie Cup last year, upsetting below-strength Free State and Western Province as they set the early pace. Their lack of depth in the second round derailed their campaign, but they will fancy their chances of making a similar start this year and bullying a Sharks pack that is missing a host of their big bruisers.

Griquas have also been shopping to build their depth, and Sharks coach John Plumtree said yesterday that it will be a testing outing for his young team.

“Griquas have done lot of recruiting, particularly at forward, and they’ll be a real threat. They are a side who are always competitive at home and at the start of the Currie Cup, but they seem to suffer later on when they are hit by injuries.

“Right now they’ll be raring to go and we’re not expecting an easy game.”

Griquas believe that the Sharks, with a youthful pack, are vulnerable.

Plumtree is missing burly Springbok front-rowers in John Smit, Jannie du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis, the pace of number eight Ryan Kankowski and formidable back-row forwards Willem Alberts and Jean Deysel.

Griquas are confident they have the talent to take advantage with Springboks Riaan Viljoen, Bjorn Basson and Davon Raubenheimer joined by Naas Olivier, Sarel Pretorius, Albertus Buckle and Rayno Barnes, who have all played Super 14 rugby for Cheetahs.

New signings in their starting line-up include former Western Province flyhalf Matthew Rosslee, lock Hendrik Roodt, who has returned from the NSW Waratahs after the Super 14, number eight Leon Karemaker and prop Jacobie Adriaanse.

Their coach, former Bok prop Dawie Theron, is predictably concentrating on pressuring the Sharks at forward and in the front row.

“The scrums remain, as usual, a place where the contest is decided in big matches,” he said this week.

But they could be in for a surprise. Plumtree has in the past three years enjoyed remarkable success in these initial stages of the Currie Cup when he has successfully matched enthusiastic youth with the experience left behind after the Springboks have taken their pick.

The Sharks coach has ensured an even spread of experience and only flyhalf Steve Meyer, who is making a comeback after briefly quitting the game, has yet to play Super 14 rugby.

There will be particular interest in the showing of former Lions outside back Louis Ludik, but the real heat will be in the front row where Griquas hope to exploit the relative inexperience of Patric Cilliers, Craig Burden and Wiehahn Herbst.

“We haven’t lost in Kimberley for three years, and we want to play with confidence and speed to place Griquas under pressure,” said Plumtree.

Griquas know that if they are to be a factor in the Currie Cup they have to win their home games while the Boks are away. On a hard, bumpy pitch, and in front of their vocal locals, they will provide a bruising challenge for the Sharks, particularly if they get their noses in front.

The Sharks, in turn, need to be physical and accurate in snuffing out the Griqua challenge early on. If they fail, the Sharks and their supporters will face a long, messy and painful afternoon.

TEAMS

Sharks: 15. Patrick Lambie 14. Louis Ludik 13. Stefan Terblanche (capt) 12. Riaan Swanepoel 11. Lwazi Mvovo 10. Steve Meyer 9. Rory Kockott 8. Keegan Daniel 7. Michael Rhodes 6. Jacques Botes 5. Alistair Hargreaves 4. Steven Sykes 3. Wiehahn Herbst 2. Craig Burden 1. Patric Cilliers

Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper 17. Eugene van Staden 18. Anton Bresler 19. Skholiwe Ndlovu 20. Charl McLeod 21. Monty Dumond 22. Andries Strauss

Griquas: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Rocco Jansen, 13 Wilmaure Louw, 12 Matt Rosslee, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Naas Olivier (captain), 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Wesley Wilkins, 5 Cecil Kemp, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Albertus Buckle/Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Rayno Barnes, 1 Steph Roberts.

Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Buckle/Adriaanse, 18 Frikkie Spies, 19 Gerhard Human, 20 Barry Geel, 21 Richard Lawson.

Kickoff: 15.00 (SS1).

Referee: Jaco Peyper

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