Bok-laden Sharks await WP
Bok-laden Sharks await WPSHARE
The Sharks will be looking to close out the pool phase of the Currie Cup on a strong note with a Springbok-laden team to host Western Province on Saturday at Kings Park.
Province's five-pointer against the Lions last week saw them leap-frog the Sharks into first place on the log, with just a one point buffer separating the teams.
Both teams have secured home semifinals already, but there is even more riding on the outcome of Saturday's match with the winner claiming top spot for the knock-out rounds and the best possible opportunity of hosting the final.
The Sharks' starting line-up has been bolstered by the inclusion of Springboks Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Marcell Coetzee, with Pat Lambie named on the bench.
Sharks backline coach Sean Everitt said that with the expectation of a tight game, given the importance riding on the outcome, discipline and defence are going to be crucial. A lapse here or there could prove to be costly.
"This week our focus is on discipline because that let us down against the Bulls on the weekend and we need to get that right playing a team like Western Province. Another focus will be on defence because Province use the width of the field well, they have some dangerous runners, especially in Cheslin Kolbe and Gio Aplon.
"For both teams it's extremely important to get a home semi and the opportunity to host the final, so I doubt either side will use this week as preparation for the semifinal when so much is at stake," he said.
Everitt said that although they lost to Province at Newlands earlier in the season, this is a completely new challenge with two very different teams.
"If you look at the match we played them down at Newlands earlier in the Currie Cup, it was a game of two halves. We conceded two soft tries in the first half, but purely because they outmuscled us at the breakdown.
"But in the second half we came back, we were way more physical and confrontational and I think we won those aspects of the game. We outscored them in the second half. We are aware of what’s coming this weekend from a physicality point of view," he explained.
After equalling Helgard Muller's record of 142 matches when he played against the Bulls last week, Jacques Botes (named on the bench) will become South Africa’s most capped Currie Cup player ever should he play.
Wiehahn Herbst is also in line for a special milestone, and will play in his 50th Currie Cup game for the Sharks if he comes on as a replacement.
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Peet Marais, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Stephan Lewies, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Pat Lambie, 22 Louis Ludik.
Date: Saturday, October 12
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: Shaun Veldsman