Sharks’ tight forwards key to victory over Bulls

2013-10-04 00:00

THE young Sharks tight forwards hold the key to a Currie Cup victory over the desperate Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld this evening.

The pace-setting Sharks and Western Province are both on 28 points. They are in pole position to host the semi- finals while the Bulls (16), the Cheetahs (17) and Golden Lions (21) are in a dogfight for the two other play-off spots.

The Sharks will be bolstered by four returning Springbok tight forwards next week ahead of the final round of league action against WP in Durban.

The Test front row of Beast Mtawarira and the Du Plessis brothers, along with tackle bag-holder and lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, will all be available for the crunch game that will decide top spot on the log.

The more immediate problem is countering the Bulls with the inexperienced lock pairing of U21 lock Stephan Lewies and the 22-year-old Peet Marais.

The Sharks’ scrum and lineout creaked against the Golden Lions last Friday and the robust Bulls are certain to target those areas to create space for their backs. The Bulls, with a strong forward platform against Griquas last Saturday, tapped into the attacking talents of their backline and romped to an emphatic 52-10 win in Kimberley.

Sharks backline coach Sean Everitt was impressed. “The Bulls played with a lot of width against Griquas and they will look to do the same against us.”

The Sharks squeaked home against the Lions 31-25 last Friday when defensive errors and their wobbly set piece almost spoilt their excellent start.

They have been bolstered by the return of experienced flanks Jacques Botes and Jean Deysel but the Sharks need to play on the front foot if they are to flourish.

Bulls coach Pine Pienaar said the return of wing Bjorn Basson, who was this week released by the Springboks, was a boost, but said his team “with their backs to the wall, need a total team effort to secure victory”.

Captain Keegan Daniel, who will play in his 100th Currie Cup tonight, said the Sharks had prepared for another high- intensity game.

“The Bulls are a proud team fighting for a play-off position. They’re a young side but they have quality players.”

He said the rotation policy used by the Sharks all Currie Cup season had left the team stronger and more confident.

“Some people might not like it but players have to be rested if you want to get the best out of them in a long year of rugby.

“We’ve been together for nine or 10 weeks now as a group and we’re happy where we are. But now is the right time to start building, improving and getting better and better.”

The Bulls at Loftus — in contrast to Griquas in Kimberley — usually bring out the best in the Sharks. And they will have to flourish again tonight to down the determined Bulls in front of their home crowd.


Blue Bulls: 15. Jurgen Visser, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. William Small-Smith, 12. Francois Venter, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Handré Pollard, 9. Rudy Paige, 8. Jono Ross (captain), 7. Jacques du Plessis, 6. Wiaan Liebenberg, 5. David Bulbring, 4. Paul Willemse, 3. Frik Kirsten, 2. Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1. Marcel van der Merwe. Replacements: 16. Bandise Maku, 17. Dean Greyling, 18. Grant Hattingh, 19. Jacques Engelbrecht, 20. Lohan Jacobs, 21. Ulrich Beyers, 22. Sampie Mastriet.

Sharks: 15. SP Marais, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Tim Whitehead, 12. Heimar Williams, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Fred Zeilinga, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Jacques Botes, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Peet Marais, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Kyle Cooper,

1. Dale Chadwick. Replacements: 16. Monde Hadebe, 17. Danie Mienie, 18. Edwin Hewitt, 19. Marcell Coetzee, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Butch James, 22. Louis Ludik.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen. Kick-off: 7.10 pm.

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

Griquas vs Cheetahs, 2.00 pm.

WP vs Lions, 2.00 pm.

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