Sharks: Lambie, Steyn out Beast, Sykes back

2012-07-16 00:00

THE Sharks, who face the Super Rugby defending champion Reds in Saturday’s quarter-final play-off, yesterday left for Brisbane without Springboks Pat Lambie and Frans Steyn.

But the Reds have problems of their own with Wallaby playmaker Quade Cooper facing a disciplinary hearing today following a dangerous tackle during his team’s weekend win over the Waratahs.

Lambie and young lock Pieter-Steph du Toit aggravated ankle injuries during the Saturday evening’s win over the Cheetahs, while centre Steyn has been ruled out of the play-offs because he only rejoined the Sharks after the April 1 deadline.

But there was some good news for the Sharks. Lock Steven Sykes and loosehead prop Beast Mtawarira, who went down with a tummy bug on the eve of the Cheetahs game, are back to full fitness and are in the 24-man touring squad. Sykes takes over from Jean Deysel who has been dropped.

Odwa Ndungane and Riaan Viljoen return to the squad to boost the backline options.

Sharks coach John Plumtree admitted he had used some colourful language in firing up his troops at half-time of Saturday’s game.

The Sharks trailed 15-6 at the break, but four second-half tries took them to a 34-15 win.

“I explained at half-time that we had to get the set piece right, dominate the advantage line and our game would get going. I think everyone was a bit nervous and the fundamentals of our game broke down in the first half.

“Once we got some go-forward and our big runners became involved, they started falling off some tackles and then we were okay,” he said.

The Sharks, in scoring four tries for a bonus point, appeared to have set themselves up for a mission impossible trip to play the Crusaders in Christchurch in the quarter-finals (this changed later when the Bulls also scored a bonus point win to earn fifth spot).

Plumtree said it had been difficult to plan for the game with surprise results cropping up during the weekend.

“It’s hard to tell a team not to go out and score four tries, when that’s what they’re paid to do.

“But it’s no use worrying about four tries or points difference when you’re 15 points behind.

“That’s how it was looking for a while and that was quite stressful for all of us.”

The outstanding player on the field on Saturday evening was Sharks wing JP Pietersen, who was powerful both on attack and defence.

“I thought he was brilliant,” said Plumtree. “He was the game-breaker and was probably the difference between the two sides. He really played beautifully.”

The news from Brisbane is that Reds flyhalf Cooper faces a disciplinary hearing early today.

Cooper was cited and sin-binned for a second-half high tackle which resulted in dazed fellow-Wallaby and Waratahs flyhalf Berrick Barnes leaving the field.

The Reds upset the odds when they overtook Jake White’s Brumbies in the race for top spot in the Australian conference.


Backs (11): Meyer Bosman, Paul Jordaan, Louis Ludik, Charl McLeod, Frederic Michalak, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Cobus Reinach, Riaan Viljoen, Tim Whitehead.

Forwards (13): Willem Alberts, Jacques Botes, Anton Bresler, Craig Burden, Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel (Captain), Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Wiehahn Herbst, Ryan Kankowski, Jandre Marais, Tendai Mtawarira, Steven Sykes.

Saturday’s play-offs (SA times):

Crusaders vs Bulls (Christchurch) — 9.35 am

Reds vs Sharks (Brisbane) — 11.40 am

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