Plumtree looking to his pack for crucial win over Cheetahs

2012-07-12 00:00

SHARKS coach John Plumtree is again looking to his forward pack to make all the difference as he goes in search of a crucial win over the Cheetahs in the final round of the Super Rugby competition at King’s Park on Saturday evening.

The Sharks need to win, probably with a bonus point for four tries, if they are to remain in the top six and advance to a quarter-final clash down under.

“The battle is always won upfront in these big games,” said Plumtree.

“The scrummaging, the driving lineouts, the intensity of the breakdown, all are important. They have a guy like [flank] Heinrich Brüssow who we have to look after. He’s a big threat.

“Our setpiece has been going really well and we have taken some real confidence from how our lineout performed against the Bulls last Friday.

“But we have to make sure that as a group that wasn’t a one-off performance. We have competition coming back into the pack, and if our loosies and locks are fit, it will be good for us.”

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské yesterday opted for Springboks sevens player Boom Prinsloo instead of Ashley Johnson as his new number eight following the injury to Justin Downey.

Prinsloo will earn his first Super Rugby cap while Johnson, in his last game for the Cheetahs before leaving to join Wasps in England, will play off the bench.

In other injury-enforced changes, Philip Snyman returns on the wing in place of Cameron Jacobs, while Griquas scrumhalf Jacques Coetzee is now on the bench after Tewis de Bruyn’s withdrawal.

Also back on the bench is former Sharks centre Andries Strauss, who returns from injury.

Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss said yesterday the players were disappointed after their home loss to the Stormers last Saturday.

“We couldn’t finish on a high and home against the Stormers, but we will definitely be up for it against the Sharks on Saturday,” Strauss said.

The Sharks are waiting on final fitness tests on Willem Alberts, Pat Lambie, Steven Sykes, Bismarck du Plessis and Jacques Botes before finalising their team.

The match kicks off at 5.05 pm on Saturday.

Cheetahs team

Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Barry Geel, 11 Philip Snyman, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Boom Prinsloo, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.

Replacements 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Andries Strauss.

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