Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold has retained the same matchday squad to play the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.
Despite suffering a 32-24 defeat to the tabletopping Hurricanes last weekend, Gold has rewarded the players who did duty in that match after a much-improved display.
“There is a lot of pride at stake,” said Gold of the Waratahs clash.
“We’ve been bitterly disappointed this year, for various reasons, and it’s important for us to show that we’re still in this fight to the end.”
Assessing the Waratahs strengths and threats, he immediately points to their physicality.
“They’re a very physical team, probably the most physical Australian team. We saw what the Force did to them on the weekend by matching them from a physical point of view, so that’s the challenge for us.
“And then the likes of Beale, Folau and Ashley-Cooper – they have some fantastic play-makers in the backline. A big strong pack but they move the ball well so we’re really going to have to get our defensive shape right.
"Their front row has played probably 80 or 90 times together and all of them Wallabies. Then you add the likes of [140kg] Will Skelton into the mix, Dave Dennis and others, you can see why they’re the reigning champions.
“They’re a formidable team, one through 15, they’re a very well-balanced team with threats everywhere; this is possibly our toughest challenge to date.”
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 S'bura Sithole, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Etienne Oosthuizen, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Kyle Cooper, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andre Esterhuizen, 23 Waylon Murray,
Date: Saturday, May 16
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 19:40 local (21:40 NZST, 11:40 SAST, 09:40 GMT)
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner, Will Houston
TMO: George Ayoub