Preview: Sharks v Western Province

Date published: September 11 2015

Currie Cup heavyweights the Sharks and Western Province go head-to-head in what promises to be an entertaining clash in Durban on Saturday.

Both sides have flattered to deceive this season but managed to register much-needed victories last weekend. The Sharks came from behind before securing a 27-26 win over the Pumas in Durban and WP claimed a hard-fought 33-15 triumph over Griquas in Cape Town.

The Sharks showed great character in that victory and fly-half Joe Pietersen wants them to build on the result.

"We are in fourth place and will have to fight hard to stay in the top four, but, if we can step up and get the combinations working, we can compete with anyone and make it to a semi-final and final," he said.

"But we do have to step up."

For Pietersen this encounter will have special meaning as he lines up against his former province, who he represented in 65 matches.

Although he spent most of his senior career at the Cape Town-based outfit, Pietersen said he will not be sentimental about facing his former team-mates.

"There will be no mixed emotions playing against Western Province," he revealed.

"I have been around for so long that I have played against just everyone in the country, and I have a couple of mates in all the teams we play against.

"Province are a really good attacking side and they have scored some good tries, mainly through their back three. But they are also good defensively. It will be one heck of a game."

WP have battled in recent weeks and suffered consecutive losses to the Blue Bulls and Free State Cheetahs last month before returning to the victory trail against Griquas.

They suffered a setback when captain Nizaam Carr was ruled out through injury but he has been replaced at number eight by Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who was one of the standout players in the tournament before he was sidelined last week with a shoulder injury.

The champions' coach John Dobson expects the home side to kick for territory before striking with their backs.

"They've got a massive kicking game," he said.

"They don’t play any rugby in their own half and they've got very good chase lines. 

"We can't allow their backs any momentum."

Prediction: Although both sides are in the play-off positions, they haven't really impressed this season. This is a difficult one to call but home ground advantage will be huge for the Sharks, who will win by five points!

The teams:

Sharks: 15 Odwa Ndungane, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 S’bura Sithole, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Gerhard Engelbrecht, 2 Monde Hadebe, 1 Thomas du Toit. 
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Dave McDuling, 19 Christiaan de Bruin, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Heimar Williams, 22 Garth April.

Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom (c), 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff. 
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Chris van Zyl, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21 Robert du Preez, 22 Kobus van Wyk.

Date: Saturday, September 12
Kick-off: 17:05 local (15:05 GMT)
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Sindile Ngcese
Television match official: Willie Vos