The Sharks will not be dwelling on the past when they return to Loftus, the scene of their Currie Cup final defeat, to take on the Bulls in their Rainbow Cup SA clash on Saturday.
DURBAN – Revenge for their agonising Currie Cup final defeat to the Bulls is not something the Sharks will be dwelling on at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow but that game has given them the confidence to turn the tables.
The Sharks are returning to Pretoria for the first time since they lost in extra-time to the Bulls, and to add spice, both teams are unbeaten in the Rainbow Cup.
“We don’t look at it that way,” Sharks coach Sean Everitt said when asked if the Sharks are out for vengeance. “Every game against the Bulls is going to be highly physical and competitive, but that final has told us that we can go to altitude and perform for long periods of time (over 100 minutes), so that has given us confidence. In short, the final is gone and you don’t think about the past when you are playing a game of this stature.”
As is often the case when teams are visiting the Bulls, there is the question of whether the visiting side can live with the Bulls at set-piece time, but Everitt is confident his forwards will not fall short.
There is a perception that the Sharks have a suspect tight five, but the coach is having none of it.
“In the first game of Super Rugby Unlocked we struggled in the line-outs at Loftus but we got considerably better as the season progressed and by the time of the final, our line-out was spot on and so was our scrum. In fact we earned some scrum penalties against the Bulls in the final
“Our set-piece has grown a lot,” Everitt reiterated.” I thought we did really well against the Stormers in the set-piece. Yes we had dodgy line-outs in first 20 minutes but we got all of them right after that, and then against the Lions we had a 100 percent line-out success plus dominance in the scrums, so yes, we know we can handle the Bulls tight five. I have every faith that we can come out on top in that department.”
One area where both the Bulls and the Sharks have been lacking is discipline. The Bulls gave away 20 penalties last week against the Stormers, and the Sharks 19 against the Lions.
“We gave away penalties all around the field against the Lions but the biggest issue for us was the defensive breakdown where the guys were going off their feet or flopping over, or the tackler did not roll away,” Everitt explained.
Everitt has again made minimal changes to his match 23 for this match. He has used almost an identical squad in the three matches so far, and this week his solitary change is at scrumhalf where concussed Grant Williams is replaced by Jaden Hendrikse and Sanele Nohamba replaces him on the bench.
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Werner Kok.