The Cell C Sharks will close out the pool stages of this year’s Currie Cup competition when they host Western Province at Growthpoint KINGS PARK this Saturday afternoon (3pm) seeking a commanding performance before the play-offs.
With home ground advantage for next weekend’s semi-final already all sewn up, the Cell C Sharks don’t need a result to maintain their status as log leaders, but not pitching up would put a dent on the team’s progress.
All season, the refrain coming from the camp has been to improve each week, and given a remarkable run of 10 straight victories, an 11th would do confidence the world of good before next week’s semi-final. Not to mention maintaining continuity and momentum.
Western Province come into this match having suffered an unexpected 29-20 defeat to the Lions last week which has put into jeopardy not only hosting a semi-final as runner-up in the pool stages, but the very real threat that a loss could knock them out of the next round completely.
There is no resting players or rotation or any changes made that would suggest head coach Robert du Preez is taking this match lightly, regardless of the fact that no other team can usurp his team’s position on the log.
Ex-South Coaster Lukhanyo Am returns from injury to take his place at centre, with Tristan Blewett shifting to the bench, in the only change to the team that defeated the Lions two weeks ago.
On the bench, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Jean-Luc du Preez return from Springbok commitments, while Louis Schreuder is back after missing the Lions match, due to a family reasons and Kobus van Wyk is over the injury that sidelined him.
“The last thing you want to do is go into a semi-final having lost the last game, but for us, winning isn’t all we’re focussing on, but rather, getting better from two weeks ago when we played the Lions,” explains wing Odwa Ndungane of the fact that the Cell C Sharks will not be letting up the intensity this weekend.
“We want to make sure we keep improving. We already have a guaranteed home semi-final, so there isn’t any pressure on us this weekend, but we want to go out and play well, to keep improving.”
Sharks: 15 Garth April, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Sibusiso Nkosi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Jean Droste, 19 Jean-Luc du Preez, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Tristan Blewett, 22 Jacobus van Wyk.
Date: Saturday, October 14
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry, Archie Sehlako
TMO: Willie Vos