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Home form a concern for Sharks

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The Sharks will be encouraged by their last match against the Joburg team, which they won 42-5 in what was the Lions’ biggest home defeat in nine years

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IF the Sharks hope to win Super Rugby’s SA Conference, they are going to have to reverse their recent disappointing form in Durban when they host the Lions tomorrow.

To that end, the Sharks will be encouraged by their last match against the Joburg team, which they won 42-5 in what was the Lions’ biggest home defeat in nine years. And then there was the win over the same team last year at Jonsson Kings Park that ended the Lions’ impressive 21-match winning streak over SA opposition in Super Rugby.

That makes it two wins in a row over the Lions for Robert du Preez’s team after the Lions had enjoyed seven straight wins over a Sharks side that has struggled against local teams in Durban in recent seasons. They have lost five of their last seven SA derbies at Kings Park, including their last two, against the Bulls and Stormers earlier this year.

Contrary to this, the Lions have won 10 of their last 13 away SA derbies and go into this match with the momentum generated by three consecutive wins.

And the Lions will fancy their chances of exposing the Sharks in the set-pieces because of an injury crisis in the front row with injuries to Beast Mtawarira, Thomas du Toit, Akker van Merwe and Craig Burden.

As a result, coach Du Preez has had to call up young Dylan Richardson to cover hooker from the bench. Richardson (pictured), one of the stars of the all-conquering Sharks Under-19 side of 2018, has played nearly all of his rugby as a loose forward.

Coach Du Preez said the former SA Schools No 8 was certain to get on the field for his debut.

“Dylan is an awesome talent and I am very excited to see how he goes on Saturday,” Du Preez said of the stocky 106kg, 1.84m Richardson.

“He is very physical and has a technical set to go with that. It is a wonderful opportunity for him.”