Sharks, Stormers aim to remain unbeaten

2011-03-10 11:07

The Sharks and Stormers will be aiming to finish the fourth round of Super Rugby without conceding a defeat when they take to the field in their respective matches tomorrow.

The Sharks have completed 240 minutes of rugby without conceding a try and will look to build on the strong start they made to their tour when they take on the Melbourne Rebels at 10.40am.

Though favoured to come out tops against the newcomers in the competition, it will be interesting to see whether the changes Sharks coach John Plumtree made to his winning side will affect the momentum his team has built after three consecutive victories.

In the most important change to the Sharks squad, Springbok captain John Smit will be starting in his first match of the season ahead of Jannie du Plessis at tighthead prop.

Out wide, Lwazi Mvovo replaces JP Pietersen, whose tour was cut short due to a knee injury, leaving space on the bench for the experienced Adrian Jacobs.

The Sharks will be aware of the fact that the Rebels have already caused an upset in the competition and this could be the reason why Plumtree is not buying into the hype which has been created around his team.

“We’ve been in this position before, when we’ve been winning and then gone through a losing patch and, last year, we lost before we started winning,” said Plumtree.

“We know the media will write us up and that’s fine, but we’re not going to read too much into that.”

Meanwhile in Cape Town, the stage is set for what should be an epic encounter between the only other unbeaten sides in the competition.

At 7.10pm, the Stormers host the Highlanders who, last week, ended the Bulls’ 18-match winning streak at Loftus Versfeld.

What has been most impressive about the New Zealand squad is their ability to bully teams off the ball at the breakdowns and, should the Stormers fail to match them in that area, they could suffer a similar fate to that of their Pretoria rivals.

The Highalnders have made only one change to their squad with Siale Piutau coming in for the injured Kade Poki.

The Stormers have been boosted by the return of Springboks Gio Aplon and Jaque Fourie ahead of this match.

Aplon will start at fullback, in the place of Conrad Jantjes, with Fourie set to make his comeback from the bench.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has also rotated his scrumhalves which gives Dewaldt Duvenhage the responsibility of keeping All Black livewire Jimmy Cowan in check.

Stormers captain Jean de Villiers this week admitted that his side has to show drastic improvement on attack.

“We didn’t do justice to the game last week, especially as we have a duty to the spectators and viewers to entertain,” said De Villiers.

The Stormers have one five-pointer to show from their first two matches and have only this week to rediscover their try-scoring ability before they take on the Bulls in a repeat of last year’s final.

Sharks (1-15):
Tendai Mtawarira,
Bismarck du Plessis,
John Smit (capt),
Steven Sykes,
Alistair Hargreaves,
Keegan Daniel,
Willem Alberts,
Ryan Kankowski,
Charl McLeod,
Patrick Lambie,
Lwazi Mvovo,
Meyer Bosman,
Stefan Terblanche,
Odwa Ndungane,
Louis Ludik.

Craig Burden,
Jannie du Plessis,
Anton Bresler,
Jacques Botes,
Conrad Hoffmann,
Jacques-Louis Potgieter,
Adrian Jacobs.

Rebels (1-15):
Nic Henderson,
Ged Robinson,
Greg Somerville,
Alister Campbell,
Kevin O’Neill,
Jarrod Saffy,
Michael Lipman,
Gareth Delve,
Nick Phipps,
Danny Cipriani,
Cooper Vuna,
Julian Huxley,
Stirling Mortlock (capt),
Lachlan Mitchell,
Mark Gerrard.

Heath Tessmann,
Laurie Weeks,
Hugh Pyle,
Tim Davidson,
Richard Kingi,
Afusipa Taumoepeau,
Luke Rooney.

Stormers (15-1):
Gio Aplon,
Danie Poolman,
Juan de Jongh,
Jean de Villiers (capt),
Bryan Habana,
Peter Grant,
Dewaldt Duvenhage,
Duane Vermeulen,
Francois Louw,
Pieter Louw,
Andries Bekker,
Rynardt Elstadt,
Brok Harris,
Deon Fourie,
CJ Van de Linde.

Siyabonga Ntubeni,
Frans Malherbe,
De Kock Steenkamp,
Nick Koster,
Ricky Januarie,
Gary van Aswegen,
Jaque Fourie.

Highlanders (15-1):
Ben Smith,
James Paterson,
Kendrick Lynn,
Shaun Treeby,
Siale Piutau,
Robbie Robinson,
Jimmy Cowan,
Nasi Manu,
Alando Soakai,
Adam Thomson,
Josh Bekhuis,
Jarrad Hoeata,
Chris King,
Jason Rutledge,
Jamie Mackintosh (capt).

Mahonri Schwalger,
Bronson Murray,
Tom Donnelly,
John Hardie,
Aaron Smith,
Tony Brown,
Telusa Veainu.

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