for their home semi-final after eating Griquas alive.
While it is probably not prudent to think too far ahead, especially in the knockout stages of a competition like the Currie Cup, the Sharks have put themselves in a good position to make the final for the second year in a row.
They confirmed their home semi-final berth on Saturday when they took apart Griquas in Kimberley 41-11. Meanwhile, Western Province only needed one half, and some awful weather, to brush aside the Bulls and set up another meeting with them for the other semi-final.
Both the teams hosting the semi-finals are in prime position to push it to the final, having clearly been the form teams throughout the shortened competition. But, no doubt that the Sharks will not be looking a fortnight ahead, rather only to this weekend.
The Lions have rightly deserved their third place on the Currie Cup log. They only lost two games in their regular season, and those losses came against the teams above them. The men from Johannesburg boasting a good looking squad and a lot of continuity.
When they were last in Durban, on September 22, they went down 37-21 thanks to a powerful first-half performance from the home side. The Sharks were really getting into their stride at that stage, just before their first and only loss to Province.
The Sharks will hope that the game against Griquas has given them enough momentum and confidence to once again overcome the Lions, especially at home.
The Sharks will also be hopeful that a few of their key Springboks are feeling more game ready with Sbu Nkosi making his first start after a long injury lay-off, and looking powerful and impressive, as well as Jean-Luc du Preez.
The burley flank also made a return from injury, earlier than expected, and will no doubt start against the Lions, probably alongside his twin, Daniel, to offer a lot of physicality to the Sharks’ set-up.
The Sharks’ forward power is their biggest weapon, and potentially an edge they could use when it comes to not only the Lions, but whoever they may face in the final.
Meanwhile, a very disappointed Griqua coach, Peter Engledow told the DFA after the match that it was not the result he, or the team, really wanted to end off the season.
“The Sharks had a strong team, who time and again disrupted our game plan and we were beaten by a better team. They continually put us under tremendous pressure but the guys still remained committed right to the end and gave of their best.”
Engledow added: “It was great having the new coach (Brent Janse van Rensburg) assisting at our practices during the past week, giving some useful input to the players for the match.
“I wish Brent all the success in his new venture at the Griqua helm as he takes the players to new heights in the future.”
Concluding, the outgoing coach said that his charges were focused and worked extremely hard and were committed right to the end. He also thanked the union, staff and the special guests for the awards evening at the conclusion of the Currie Cup series as well as the parting gift presented to him.
“It has been a special five years and five good seasons with Griquas and the Griqua family and I wish them all the very best in the future.”