Sharks head into long, hard slog

Tue, 02 Apr 2013 08:23
Large pieter steph du toit

The Sharks begin a gruelling eight week period when they take on the high-flying Crusaders at Kings Park on Friday evening.

The Sharks begin a gruelling eight week period when they take on the high-flying Crusaders at Kings Park on Friday evening.

Their itinerary consists of fixtures against the Crusaders, Stormers and the Cheetahs before they head on their four-week tour of Australia and New Zealand.

The Sharks had their bye this last week and assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards highlighted the importance of the three games leading up to their tour.

"All three of these matches are absolutely vital for our campaign.

"And every match against the Crusaders is a passionate clash, they have arguably been New Zealand’s best side in the history of the competition and a side that our guys measure themselves against," he stressed.

The Sharks produced an incredibly dominant display when they destroyed the below-par Rebels in their last outing, which will give them confidence heading into this tough period.

"It is certainly nice that the bounce of the ball has gone our way and we can go into the Crusaders’ game having ticked a few boxes that we haven’t in the past.

"The confidence is there and we’ve removed much of the doubt," Reece-Edwards explained.

The Durban side will feel more relieved that they have got the try-scoring monkey off their back but will feel aggrieved that they have missed out on a couple of bonus points.

"At this stage of the competition, we’re probably a bonus point or two short, but we’ll take four wins out of five.

"We have three games before touring and there are some targets set, we also have to look at bonus points along the line," he said.

The Sharks, aware of their tough schedule, will be encouraged with the return of a number of top players during this eight week period.

"We should also get Bismarck du Plessis, Willem Alberts, Butch James, Jean Deysel and Tim Whitehead back.

"Getting those five back is a third of your team back and it freshens up a few people.

"It will be good for us," the assistant coach added.

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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Rebels 8 5 0 3 22
Brumbies 8 5 0 3 21
Waratahs 7 3 0 4 17
Reds 8 1 1 6 8
Force 8 1 0 7 6
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Chiefs 8 7 0 1 33
Crusaders 8 7 0 1 32
Hurricanes 8 5 0 3 26
Highlanders 8 5 0 3 24
Blues 7 3 1 3 16
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 8 6 0 2 28
Bulls 7 5 1 1 23
Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 12
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 6 0 2 27
Sharks 8 4 1 3 22
Jaguares 8 1 0 7 7
Kings 7 1 0 6 4