Sharks to decide fate

2014-10-11 00:00

The Sharks’ clash against Western Province is sure to be a nailbiter, with the Sharks knowing that nothing less than a win will secure them a home semi-final next week.

With the Lions taking on the Cheetahs in the first match of the afternoon, the Sharks will be looking to the Free State team to do them a favour and tame the Johannesburg lads. If that does happen, it’s in the Sharks’ own hands as to where they will run out come next Saturday. Despite that fact, the Sharks have made it clear that they are looking to beat Province and build up steam heading into that semi-final.

There are four key Sharks players to look out for this afternoon...

SP Marais

The Sharks fullback has been the preferred choice in the 15 jersey this Currie Cup and has been a solid performer throughout the competition. Marais had a long and difficult Super Rugby competition and admitted at the start of the Currie Cup that he wanted to improve his decision making. He has come good in that regard, being consistent on when he kicks and runs. The fullback also linked up well with Tonderai Chavhanga and Odwa Ndungane (injured) in the earlier rounds of the Currie Cup. He will fancy himself on attack against a second-string Western Province outfit.

Andre Esterhuizen

The massive 20-year-old centre has been a big part of the Sharks resurgence in the last four rounds of the Currie Cup. He has added another dimension to the backline with his strong runs and ability to break the advantage line. ­Esterhuizen has also allowed flyhalf Lionel Cronjé some freedom to attack the line with the knowledge that he can drop the ball on to his inside centre who will crash it up if need be. He goes up against Michael van der Spuy, who has been solid for WP, but he will fancy himself to barge his way through the midfield. His contribution today could be vital.

Tera Mtembu

The Sharks captain has been talismanic this season after being put in the hot seat. Despite the added responsibility of the captaincy, Mtembu has worked tirelessly all over the park and has shown a skill set that most loose forwards would envy. He is solid at the lineout and maul but his biggest contributions seem to come in open play. Mtembu has showed an X-factor on attack with a number of line breaks and he links up well between the forwards and backs. He has also been good on defence and will be looking to keep that tight this afternoon.

Thomas du Toit

“The Tank Engine” has punched well above his age-group and weight in the Currie Cup and is definitely turning some heads in the South African rugby fraternity. At only 19, Du Toit has held his own against some of the best props in the country and there seems no way to slow him down. His hard work at scrum time has been vital for the Sharks who have struggled in that area. He has also been dynamic on the field and has a great work-rate as a ball carrier and on defence. His sniping try against Griquas earlier in the season shows that props have the brains of a scrumhalf.

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