Bulls will bring out Sharks’ best

2012-09-28 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree has played musical chairs with his backs and Meyer Bosman will be the Sharks’ new flyhalf for tonight’s big Currie Cup outing against the Blue Bulls at King’s Park.

Plumtree, in announcing his squad yesterday, has juggled his backline talents, first to cover for the absence of Springbok wing Lwazi Mvovo and, second, to ensure that fit-again Paul Jordaan is included in the starting line-up.

Bosman, who has shown consistently good form and kicked accurately at goal, has been switched from inside centre to flyhalf with Riaan Viljoen returning to his familiar fullback position.

Louis Ludik, who was at fullback and was impressive against the Lions last Saturday, takes over from Mvovo on the wing. Tim Whitehead moves from outside to inside centre with Jordaan joining him in midfield.

There is only one addition (Jordaan) to the backline that started against the Lions, but there are four other positional switches with only wing Odwa Ndungane and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach retaining their places.

The one change to the pack is at hooker with the experienced Pieter Dixon replacing Craig Burden, who will join Mvovo in watching the Springboks from the Loftus grandstand tomorrow evening.

Kyle Cooper, back from an extended injury break, will join the bench as the replacement hooker.

The Sharks fluffed their lines at Ellis Park last Saturday when a string of turnovers cost them a couple of tries — and victory — after they had dominated the game.

Plumtree is hoping that the changes to the backline will bring some accuracy on attack.

“If we want to have a home semi­final, we simply have to win both our remaining games at home [against the Bulls and Griquas]. A loss against the Bulls would be disastrous. But, if we are to succeed, our execution will have to be far better than it was against the Lions.”

The Bulls had a shaky start to the season and a week ago were lying bottom of the log with poor defence resulting in three successive losses.

Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar, under massive pressure and with a relegation game looming, admits he had slept very little in the build-up to last weekend’s game against the Free Staters. But his players responded positively and a 34-30 victory lifted the siege and he is now looking for a top four finish and a spot in the semi-finals.

“The last few weeks have been hectic, especially off the field and obviously it is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster,” Pienaar said.

“It was good to win [against Free State] and has boosted the confidence of the players. But we will definitely need to do more this week against the Sharks,” he said.

“If you want to win the Currie Cup you have to get into that semi-final, and it doesn’t matter where you play, away or home. We are still under pressure,” Pienaar said.

Prolific Blue Bulls flyhalf Louis Fouche is facing a late fitness test with Lionel Cronjé standing by to replace him while Sharks flank Jean Deysel (neck) has been cleared to play tonight.

The Bulls do seem to bring out the best in the Sharks and it should be a close and entertaining battle. The weather, again, could put a dampener on proceedings but anything less than a win at home will be a major setback for the Sharks and would almost certainly end their chances of hosting this year’s Currie Cup final.


Sharks – 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Meyer Bosman, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 Dale Chadwick.

Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Lubabalo Mtembu, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Marius Joubert, 22 Sbura Sithole.

Blue Bulls – 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Louis Fouchè/Lionel Cronjè, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Dewald Potgieter (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger,

2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morné Mellett.

Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten,

18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Lionel Cronjè/Willie du Plessis, 22 Ulrich Beyers.

Referee: Mark Lawrenmce. Kick-off: 7.10 pm.

Tomorrow’s Currie Cup games (home team first):

WP vs Lions, 2 pm.

Cheetahs vs Griquas, 2 pm.

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