Sharks determined to improve in URC as Lions aim to end tour on a high

Sharks centre Ben Tapuai during the United Rugby Championship match against Glasgow Warriors at Hollywoodbets Kings Park on October 15 2022.
Sharks centre Ben Tapuai during the United Rugby Championship match against Glasgow Warriors at Hollywoodbets Kings Park on October 15 2022.
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

With their mission of qualifying for the Heineken Champions Cup round of 16 achieved, the Sharks will be determined to improve their log position in the United Rugby Championship (URC).

The Sharks have been impressive in the Champions Cup as they qualified for the knockouts with a game to spare in the group stages.

In the URC they find themselves outside the top eight side as they sit in position nine with 29 points after 10 games.

But the Sharks have played less games compared to the other 15 teams that have played 11 or 12.

The Sharks' Australian-born centre Ben Tapuai said they have addressed their position in the URC and are planning to use Saturday’s away clash to Edinburg to change that.

“I think at this stage of the season we have addressed that in terms of where we are in the URC,” Tapuai said.

“We are a few games behind some teams and it isn't necessarily two wins, but I guess  the games we are going to play we have to win.

“I guess that’s what we are kind of looking forward to this weekend, a good performance and try to get as far as we can with a few games in hand.”

For this game, the Sharks have rested some of their Springbok players with Ox Nche, Thomas du Toit and Grant Williams among the national team stars who are starting.

Edinburgh are also expected to be without their international stars as Scotland are preparing for the start of the Six Nations.

“ I think we can’t read into that too much because they are a very strong team and they have been in this competition for a very long time,” Tapuai said.

“Whether they have their Scottish internationals or not, we know it is going to be important for their campaign to finish as high as they can as well.

“I think for us this week, coming from a disappointing loss against the Harlequins, we are focusing on ourselves and trying to get everything sorted for Saturday.

“We are not really worried about who they have because they are a quality side with or without their internationals.”

The two sides’ game at Edinburgh Rugby Stadium starts at 7.15pm.

Meanwhile the Lions will be looking to finish their tour on a high when they take on Connacht at Galway Greyhound Stadium on Saturday (9.35pm).

The Lions outclassed the Dragons in the EPCR Challenge Cup last week.

Notable changes in their line-up for Connacht see flanker Sibusiso Sangweni slot into the six jumper, with Stean Pienaar getting his opportunity on the right wing and Quan Horn moving to fullback.

Two South African sides, the Bulls and Stormers, are also in action on Friday night.

The Bulls are away to Scarlets while the Stormers visit Ulster. Both games start at 9.35pm. 

Sharks Team: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), 7 Henco Venter, 6 James Venter, 5 Gerbrandt Grobler, 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche.

Substitutes: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Carlü Sadie, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Yaw Penxe.

Lions Team: 15. Quan Horn, 14. Stean Pienaar, 13. Henco van Wyk, 12. Marius Louw (captain), 11. Edwill van der Merwe, 10. Jordan Hendrikse, 9. Andre Warner, 8. Emmanuel Tshituka, 7. Emile van Heerden, 6. Sibusiso Sangweni, 5. Darrien Landsberg, 4. Willem Alberts, 3. Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2. PJ Botha, 1. JP Smith

Substitutes: 16. Michael van Vuuren, 17. Morgan Naude, 18. Ruan Smith, 19. Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 20. Jaco Kriel, 21. Morne van den Berg, 22. Manny Rass, 23. Andries Coetzee

Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.