‘Nothing in final game bar pride’

2013-07-13 00:00

THE Sharks and Southern Kings will close out their respective campaigns today when the pair meet at King’s Park. Both sides will be looking to finish on a high as they wave goodbye to their 2013 Super Rugby seasons.

It has been a tough campaign for the men from Durban that promised much in the initial stages. But a string of crucial injuries led to a dip in form and the results began to suffer.

And when new CEO John Smit found it necessary to part ways with coach John Plumtree, the Sharks found themselves at their lowest point in recent memory.

But that has not detracted from their will to finish the campaign on a high, and assistant coach Grant Bashford is expecting his charges to give their all to give the Durban faithful something — however insignificant it may seem — to cheer about.

“There is nothing in this final game against the Kings bar pride. This is a proud Sharks team regardless of what’s happened throughout the year, they showed that against the Blues that they weren’t going to lie down and they certainly showed it against the Bulls. Regardless of where we played them [the Bulls], the effort was going to be the same and so too the commitment,” said Bashford.

“We’re expecting the same this week, the pride will come through and the players will be looking to finish the season off on a big high.”

With this being their first year of induction into the expanded 15-team tournament, the Kings have played the Sharks just once, back in round three when the Sharks came out 21-12 victors in a sloppy Port Elizabeth encounter.

The Sharks are substantially changed from that match, which featured the likes of Paul Jordaan, Pat Lambie and Francois Steyn in their line-up, but who are not available this time around.

Much will depend on the capabilities of Riaan Viljoen, who missed a penalty to beat the Bulls a week ago, at flyhalf as Lambie continues to recover from a back injury.

There is also a return for winger JP Pietersen while Odwa Ndungane’s switch to fullback also commands attention.

The Kings have surprised friend and foe this year. The pre-season expectations of regular routs failed to materialise and instead, pride on defence characterised a dogged determination to prove their detractors wrong. And although they could well finish bottom of the log, they haven’t disappointed and will look back at their season with some sense of pride.

The Sharks: Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Louis Ludik, Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo, Riaan Viljoen, Charl McLeod, Keegan Daniel (captain), Jean Deysel, Marcell Coetzee, Franco van der Merwe, Edwin Hewitt, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Wiehahn Herbst, Jandré Marais, Willem Alberts, Jacques Botes, Cobus Reinach, Fred Zeilinga.

Southern Kings: Siviwe Soyizwapi, Hadleigh Parkes, Waylon Murray, Shane Gates, Marcello Sampson, George Whitehead, Nicolas Vergallo, Jacques Engelbrecht, Mpho Mbiyozo, Devin Oosthuizen, David Bulbring, Steven Sykes (captain) Kevin Buys, Hannes Franklin, Charl du Plessis.

Replacements: Grant Kemp, Bandise Maku, Darron Nell, Thabo Mamojele, Aidon Davis, Shaun Venter, Michael Killian.

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