Preview: Pumas v Sharks

Date published: August 28 2014


The Sharks' unbeaten record faces another stern test when they take on the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday.

The Sharks' unbeaten record faces another stern test when they take on the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday.

The defending champions and last year's runners-up, Western Province, are the only two sides yet to taste defeat in the competition but the Durban-based outfit came close to surrendering their unbeaten status when they came from behind to beat the Free State Cheetahs last weekend.

And Sharks head coach Brad Macleod-Henderson expects a tough battle against the Pumas who are yet to lose at their home venue this season.

“The Pumas have done very well, they're a strong prospect at home and undefeated in Nelspruit,” Macleod-Henderson told the Sharks' official website.

“They had another good win on the weekend against Griquas and they rolled Free State over in the first round of the competition, also at Mbombela Stadium, so we know it's not going to be easy.”

The Pumas head into this clash brimming with confidence as they secured a try-scoring bonus-point in their 32-15 victory over Griquas last weekend.

The men from Nelspruit's coach Jimmy Stonehouse has made some changes to his starting line-up. In the back-line, Dylon Frylinck – who was in the Stormers set-up earlier this year – comes in at scrum-half.

He comes in for Reynier van Rooyen, who was injured in the Griquas encounter. JW Bell also returns to the run-on side to make his 50th Pumas appearance as a replacement for Heinrich Steyl while SA Sevens flyer Rosko Speckman takes over from Jerome Pretorius on the left wing.

There are no changes amongst the forwards, but utility back Coenie van Wyk returns to action via the bench after recovering from injury.

These side also faced each other in Durban two weeks ago and the Pumas stood their ground for most of that match before the Sharks claimed a 34-17 victory.

Macleod-Henderson feels both teams will use that match to analyse their opponents' respective strengths and weaknesses.

“There are things they would have learnt about us from our first round game, and things we will recall from their game,” he added.

“Our drive worked very well against them, so they will probably put some work into trying to stop that.

“We played with some nice width and created some opportunities on the outside, so they will be looking to shore up the drive and defensively make sure there are no opportunities on the outside.”

Prediction: The Pumas will put up a brave fight but the Sharks' experience will prove decisive in the end. It will be tight but the Sharks will win by three points!

The teams:

Pumas: 15 JW Bell, 14 Jerome Pretorius, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Rosko Speckman, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Dylon Frylick, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Corné Steenkamp (c), 5 Giant Mtyanda, 4 Frikkie Spies, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Corné Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 DeJay Terblanché, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Jaco Bouwer, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 JC Roos, 22 Coenie van Wyk.

Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 S'bura Sithole, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Conrad Hoffmann, 8 Tera Mtembu (c), 7 Francois Kleinhans, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 JC Astle, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Stephan Lewies, 19 Johan Meyer, 20 Cameron Wright, 21 Heimar Williams, 22 Lionel Cronje.

Date: Friday, August 29
Kick-off: 19:10 local (18:10 BST, 17:10 GMT)
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johan Greeff