Currie Cup

Sharks unshaken by return trip to fortress Loftus for Currie Cup final - coach Sean Everitt

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Sean Everitt. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
Sean Everitt. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
(Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Sharks head coach Sean Everitt said his team would start this weekend with a clean slate, unshaken by the Loftus aura and their Currie Cup final defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria earlier this year.

Bulls director of rugby Jake White has fortified Loftus to the point where they've won 21 home games since he took charge and lost once against Western Province when they fielded a weakened Currie Cup round 1 team because their Rainbow Cup final against Benetton in Italy fell on the same Saturday.

During this superior home run, the Bulls beat the Sharks in last season's Currie Cup final after extra time in January, where the visitors ran out of legs as the clock approached 100 minutes.

Making the challenge more onerous for Everitt's men is that the Bulls have lost just three Currie Cup finals at home in 12 attempts and last fell at this stage on their patch against the Rassie Erasmus-coach Free State Cheetahs in 2005.

"We look at it as a clean slate; we haven't spoken about it at all," said Everitt.

"We've played quite a few games at altitude, and we've coped really well, so we don't see that as a factor.

"We played against the British & Irish Lions until the 50th-minute red card at Loftus, and we played well against the Lions two weeks ago (at Ellis Park) when we beat them by 50 points.

"I certainly don't see the altitude as a factor. It's something that we've gotten used to with this group of players over the last few years.

"Although we would have loved to play at home, we are very happy to go up to Loftus and start with a clean slate."

The Sharks were heavily bolstered by Springbok tighthead Thomas du Toit's return, who became available for selection after leaving the Bok bubble in Australia to attend a family bereavement.

Du Toit will partner loose-head Khwezi Mona in the front row, with Kerron van Vuuren continuing at hooker.

The 26-year-old World Cup winner has given the Bulls problems when he's started matches, and the Sharks will hope that prowess continues when they pack down after the 17:00 kick-off on Saturday.

"Unfortunately, Thomas went through a family bereavement, and he left the bubble in Australia and has been at home for nearly two weeks now," said Everitt.

"He's available for selection, and being a Springbok, the way we handle them is that they start on the weekend. The same happened with the other Springboks when they were away. So, he gets the privilege of starting in this Currie Cup final.

"He's huge for us. He was certainly on form in the Test match he played for SA, and he's a Springbok and a World Cup winner who brings a lot of experience to the team.

"He's a quality rugby player, and he'll improve us in certain areas of the game."

Teams:

Bulls

15 David Kriel, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Janko Swanepoel, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Joe van Zyl, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp

Substitutes: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Ruan Combrinck/David Coetzer, 23 Stravino Jacobs

Sharks

15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Wener Kok, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Khwezi Mona 

Substitutes: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Reniel Hugo, 21 Lucky Dlepu, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Anthony Volmink

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Fixtures
Thu 14 Apr 22 13:00 PM (SAST)
Sigma Lions
The Windhoek Draught Griquas
Wits Rugby Stadium, Johannesburg
SuperSport
Fri 15 Apr 22 14:45 PM (SAST)
DHL Western Province
Toyota Free State XV
DHL Stadium, Cape Town
Sat 16 Apr 22 15:00 PM (SAST)
Cell C Sharks XV
Vodacom Bulls
Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban
SuperSport
Results
Sat 14 May 22
Vodacom Bulls
Vodacom Bulls 43
Sigma Lions
Sigma Lions 37
Sat 14 May 22
Toyota Free State XV
Toyota Free State XV 44
Cell C Sharks XV
Cell C Sharks XV 15
Fri 13 May 22
Airlink Pumas
Airlink Pumas 17
DHL Western Province
DHL Western Province 23
Logs
Team
P
W
PTS
Team Logo
1. Vodacom Bulls
10
8
42
Team Logo
2. Toyota Cheetahs
9
9
41
Team Logo
3. Cell C Sharks
10
5
24
Team Logo
4. The Windhoek Draught Griquas
9
4
21