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
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne vs MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle vs Toulouse14:45
Castres vs Bayonne18:30
Lyon vs Brive18:30
Oyonnax vs Stade Francais18:30
Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , August 29
Pumas vs SharksPumas vs Sharks Preview
Saturday , August 30
Griquas vs Cheetahs15:00
Blue Bulls vs Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Preview
Eastern Province Kings vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Friday , August 29
Wellington vs ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Preview
Saturday , August 30
Counties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay14:35
Southland vs Otago17:35
North Harbour vs Waikato19:35
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs Tasman16:35
Wednesday, September 3
Manawatu vs Bay Of Plenty19:35
Thursday , September 4
Otago vs Canterbury19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris
Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon
Toulon 60 - 19 La Rochelle
Montpellier 20 - 17 GrenobleMontpellier vs Grenoble Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Blue Bulls 30 - 25 Eastern Province KingsBlue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Western Province 27 - 14 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
Sharks 19 - 16 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Northland 35 - 5 WellingtonNorthland vs Wellington Report
Counties Manukau 29 - 25 OtagoCounties Manukau vs Otago Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse 35 - 6 CastresToulouse vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 33 - 15 GriquasPumas vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 27 - 58 CanterburyWaikato vs Canterbury Report
Hawkes Bay 29 - 26 TaranakiHawkes Bay vs Taranaki Report
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour 21 - 25 Southland
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More Rugby Championship results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00