Planet Rugby

Preview: Sharks v Lions

07th March 2014 06:37

Share:

SKY_MOBILE Sharks v Lions

Pulling the strings: Pat Lambie

As they return to action following their first bye, the Sharks will be looking for more of the same when they host the Lions in Durban on Saturday.

While the Sharks started the season producing the same uncanny ability to punish teams when presented with turnover possession, a drastic improvement in their defensive structure has been noted and this is part of the reason why Jake White's men are, again, early favourites to win the tournament.

By naming the same starting line-up for his team's third outing of the season, White is steadily increasing the trust factor within his squad while the World Cup-winning coach would undoubtedly agree that continuity in personnel at Super Rugby level is as rare as Lions victories over the Sharks have been over the years.

On the other side of the coin it could end up being somewhat of an emotional encounter for Lions coach Johan Ackermann whose first match in charge of the Johannesburg side was against the Sharks in 2012.

Ackermann started his tenure as head-coach at a time when clouds of uncertainty were in abundance at Ellis Park, but showed that he meant business when his side banked the only victory the Lions have recorded over the Sharks since they split from the Cats in 2006.

That loss derailed the Sharks campaign and if, by some miracle, it happens again in Durban it would again be a drastic dent in the Durban side's ambitions. even though it is early days yet.

While White had the luxury of showing continuity in his selection, Ackermann decided to reintroduce Elton Jantjies as his starting fly-half ahead of Marnitz Boshoff who has been shifted to full-back.

Jantjies has been sidelined through injury, but has made steadily returned to form playing in the lower leagues while Boshoff called the shots in the team's opening three matches.

His return puts the Lions in a position where they will have a left and right-footed kicker at their disposal, although Jantjies' ability to attack the gain-line may be of greater value against a side that has world beaters to protect that all important 10-12 channel.

To counter the wrath of Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis and group of internationals, veteran Willie Wepener has been promoted from the bench and he will undoubtedly beef-up a pack that previously relied heavily on Springbok Franco van der Merwe's experience as guidance.

Whether this will be enough against a side where only one of their forwards has not played at Test level, remains to be seen although the prize of taking pole position in the South African conference could be a huge motivational factor for the underdogs of this match.

The Lions have an opportunity to prove that their strong start - with victories against the Cheetahs and Stormers - wasn't a flash in the pan.

The risk they run heading into this match is that the wheels could come off.

Prediction:While both sides are likely to give the ball air, the Sharks should have the upper hand at the set-phases. Sharks by twelve points

Sharks:15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements:16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 S'bura Sithole

Lions:15 Marnitz Boshoff, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Chrysander Botha, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Schalk van der Merwe
Replacements:16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 MB Lusaseni, 20 Willie Britz, 21 Ross Cronje 22, JW Jonker, 23 Coenie van Wyk

Date: Saturday, March 8
Kick-off: 19:10 local (17.10 GMT)
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa) Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , October 3
Bath vs Saracens19:45
Saturday , October 4
London Irish vs Northampton15:00
Harlequins vs London Welsh15:00
Gloucester vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , October 5
Sale vs Wasps14:00
Newcastle vs Exeter15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , October 4
South Africa vs New Zealand16:05
Argentina vs Australia23:40
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 3
Connacht vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Ulster vs Edinburgh19:35
Zebre vs Ospreys19:35
Saturday , October 4
Leinster vs Munster18:30
Sunday , October 5
Benetton Treviso vs Glasgow14:00
Scarlets vs Newport Gwent D'gons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , October 3
Oyonnax vs Toulon20:45
Saturday , October 4
Bordeaux-Begles vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Brive18:30
Bayonne vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Lyon18:30
Castres vs Grenoble18:30
Toulouse vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , October 3
Pumas vs Blue Bulls15:00
Sharks vs Lions19:10
Saturday , October 4
Cheetahs vs Western Province14:00
Griquas vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, October 1
Hawkes Bay 36 - 14 WellingtonHawkes Bay vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 28
Wasps 35 - 18 NewcastleWasps vs Newcastle Report
Exeter 36 - 13 HarlequinsExeter vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 33 - 15 Benetton TrevisoNewport Gwent D
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Tasman 32 - 24 OtagoTasman vs Otago Report
Canterbury 26 - 28 SouthlandCanterbury vs Southland Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 27
Leicester 19 - 22 London IrishLeicester vs London Irish Report
Saracens 40 - 19 Sale SharksSaracens vs Sale Sharks Report
Northampton 31 - 24 BathNorthampton vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
South Africa 28 - 10 AustraliaSouth Africa vs Australia Report
Argentina 13 - 34 New ZealandArgentina vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Zebre 13 - 6 UlsterZebre vs Ulster Report
Munster 14 - 19 OspreysMunster vs Ospreys Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulon 40 - 17 MontpellierToulon vs Montpellier Report
Grenoble 27 - 25 Racing Metro ParisGrenoble vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Brive 34 - 24 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 8 - 19 Clermont Auvergne
Stade Francais 43 - 10 La Rochelle
Lyon 28 - 18 Castres
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 53 - 24 Eastern Province KingsSharks vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Griquas 8 - 46 LionsGriquas vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 20 - 22 ManawatuWaikato vs Manawatu Report
North Harbour 28 - 25 Hawkes Bay
Counties Manukau 55 - 7 WellingtonCounties Manukau vs Wellington Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh 10 - 46 GloucesterLondon Welsh vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411