Sharks to focus on defence

Durban - The Cell C Sharks’ focus will be on defence when they host the Highlanders in their penultimate home pool match at Kings Park in Durban on Friday evening.

The visitors from Dunedin, fresh from a bye last weekend and a win over the Bulls the week before, start their South African tour with a tough match against the table-topping Cell C Sharks.

The home team will have taken notice of the fact that no other team in the competition have forced their opponents to miss as many tackles as the Highlanders.

The team from Otago’s opponents have tackled at a competition low of 84% this year.

But the Cell C Sharks, whose Australasian tour starts in Melbourne next week, have been superb on defence – they’ve conceded a competition-low of only nine tries all season, which equates to one try every 71 minutes.

"The challenge for us is to focus on getting a result against the Highlanders," said Cell C Sharks director of rugby Jake White.

"It’s our last home game for a long while and we have to keep the momentum going, whether it’s the Highlanders here or the Rebels the following week.

"New Zealand rugby has always been strong.

"They are a good team, they have some good players, Ben Smith and Aaron Smith are probably the two form players in New Zealand, and have been for the last couple of seasons, not just this year."

Teams:

Sharks:

15. Lwazi Mvovo , 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Frans Steyn, 11. S’bura Sithole, 10. Tim Swiel, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Keegan Daniel, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Willem Alberts, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Etienne Oosthuizen, 20. Ryan Kankowski, 21. Stefan Ungerer, 22. Heimar Williams, 23. SP Marais

Highlanders:

15. Ben Smith (co-captain), 14. Richard Buckman, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 12. Shaun Treeby, 11. Patrick Osborne, 10. Lima Sopoaga, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7. Shane Christie, 6. Elliot Dixon, 5. Joe Wheeler, 4. Jarrad Hoeata, 3. Chris King, 2. Liam Coltman, 1. Kane Hames

Substitutes: 16. Ged Robinson, 17. Craig Millar, 18. Ma’afu Fia, 19. Josh Bekhuis, 20. Gareth Evans, 21. Fumiaki Tanaka, 22. Trent Renata, 23. John Hardie
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