Sharks must win remaining games for home semi

2009-04-22 00:00

VICTORY in their final three round robin games — all in Durban — could still secure the Sharks a home semi-final in the Super 14.

The Sharks did all the hard work in the first half of the Super 14, winning four games away from home and taking a handy lead at the top of the log.

But unexpected defeats to the two bottom teams, the Reds and the Cheetahs, followed by their home loss to the Crusaders, has left them vulnerable and the Chiefs are now in pole position to finish top of the log.

The Sharks and the Chiefs share top spot on 31 points, but the New Zealanders have a game in hand. The Sharks will be hoping that the Bulls, back from their overseas travels, will down the Chiefs at Loftus this weekend to again throw the race for top spot (and a potential home final) wide open.

The Sharks, with a bye this weekend, could be as low as fourth or fifth on the log by Saturday night, but they will then be looking to make up ground in the final three rounds.

The Sharks wrap up their campaign against the Highlanders (May 2), the Waratahs (May 9) and the Bulls (May 16) and victory against all three should keep the Sharks ahead of them on the log.

But the three New Zealand teams, the Chiefs, Hurricanes and Blues, could still pip the Sharks to a top-two finish and a home semi-final.

The Chiefs’ final four games are the tough one against the Bulls, followed by what should be an easy outing against the under-performing Stormers in Cape Town, before they return home to face the Hurricanes and Brumbies.

The Hurricanes play the Brumbies and Blues (both at home) and then the Chiefs and Reds (both away). The Blues face the Reds (H), Hurricanes (A), Brumbies (A) and Crusaders (H).

The top seven teams on the log are (games played in brackets): Chiefs (9) 31, Sharks (10) 31, Bulls (9) 29, Hurricanes (9) 29, Blues (9) 28 and Waratahs (10) 28.

The Sharks have had the week off and hope to be at full strength for the remaining three games, with Ruan Pienaar back from a knee injury. However, prop Jannie du Plessis and flank Keegan Daniel face a disciplinary hearing today following incidents in the Crusaders game and they could face suspension.

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