Sharks‚ Western Province fight for top of Currie Cup log
There’s only one Currie Cup game on Saturday and the clash between the Sharks and Western Province at Newlands could prove to be the most significant of the tournament.
Both sides are unbeaten and have collected maximum points to an extent where the chasing pack can’t catch them.
There’s a break next week then there is the final round on the weekend of October 12 to 13.
The winner of Saturday’s grudge match‚ a rematch of some sort in regards with last year’s final‚ will probably top the log.
John Dobson’s Province are best placed to finish top because of their healthy 114-point difference and a bonus point win will make life easy for them. Western Province and the Sharks are first and second on the log respectively.
The Sharks are still a difficult foe and have been sharp defensively but even without a win‚ the Sharks have an easy trip to the Griquas next week where they should collect the win that would rule the Blue Bulls out of home semifinal reckoning.
Dobson‚ though‚ isn’t looking far ahead even though the Sharks are easily the best of the rest.
“It’s a game of immense pressure because I think whoever loses won’t host the Currie Cup final‚ but there’s a massive sense of excitement in looking forward to the game‚” he said.
“What people don’t realise is that there are 10 guys who started last year’s final who aren’t playing this week so it’s a new team with a lot of energy.
“The only guys who played in the final were the two locks who were in different positions‚ so it’s a new team and the Sharks have nine. It’s a new challenge for us.”
The Sharks have done a lot of things right to earn the four full houses of points to get them to 20 but they are also a brilliant counterattacking team with a bristling pack of forwards.
They have their Bok props in Thomas du Toit and Coenie Oosthuizen starting and on the bench respectively‚ which gives the contest the sense of respectability it deserves.
Sharks coach Robert du Preez said Western Province have been the team to beat this season because of their ability to punish mistakes.
“They’re probably the form team and they’re a very good attacking side. You can’t afford to turn the ball over against them and they’ve also got a very good defensive record so there's all to play for this weekend. We’re looking forward to the clash‚” Du Preez said.
15 Dillyn Leyds‚ 14 Sergeal Petersen‚ 13 Ruhan Nel‚ 12 Dan Kriel‚ 11 SP Marais‚ 10 Josh Stander‚ 9 Jano Vermaak‚ 8 Juarno Augustus‚ 7 Ernst van Rhyn‚ 6 Kobus van Dyk‚ 5 JD Schickerling‚ 4 Chris van Zyl (captain)‚ 3 Michael Kumbirai‚ 2 Scarra Ntubeni‚ 1 Ali Vermaak.
16 Chad Solomon‚ 17 Caylib Oosthuizen‚ 18 Carlu Sadie‚ 19 Salmaan Moerat‚ 20 Chris Massyn‚ 21 Herschel Jantjies‚ 22 JJ Engelbrecht.
15 Curwin Bosch‚ 14 Kobus van Wyk‚ 13 Jeremy Ward‚ 12 Marius Louw‚ 11 Lwazi Mvovo‚ 10 Robert du Preez‚ 9 Louis Schreuder‚ 8 Daniel du Preez‚ 7 Tyler Paul‚ 6 Jacques Vermeulen‚ 5 Hyron Andrews‚ 4 Gideon Koegelenberg‚ 3 Thomas du Toit‚ 2 Mahlatse Ralepelle (captain)‚ 1 Juan Schoeman.
16 Armand van der Merwe‚ 17 Coenraad Oosthuizen‚ 18 Ruben van Heerden‚ 19 Luke Stringer‚ 20 Cameron Wright‚ 21 Leolin Zas‚ 22 Aphelele Fassi.
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds‚ Divan Uys
TMO: Shaun Veldsman