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Preview: Sharks v Stormers

30th May 2014 08:01

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Cobus Reinach Sharks v Stormers SR 2013

Big SA derby: Sharks v Stormers

In 20 previous matches between the Sharks and the Stormers, both sides have been victorious on 10 occasions.

That statistic is set to change when they clash in what promises to be an exciting South African derby in Durban on Saturday.

The Sharks head into this encounter as overwhelming favourites as they are sitting at the top of the South African Conference and the overall standings.

The men from the Cape have not had such a good time of it this year and are languishing in 11th place on the overall table and are third in the SA Conference - a whopping 20 points behind the Sharks.

Allister Coetzee's side have lost just once in the last month, against the Bulls in Pretoria, but the same goes for the Sharks, who returned last weekend from their Australasian tour with just one loss from four matches.

The Sharks still boast the best defence in the competition, having conceded only 18 tries thus far, but they will have noticed the men from the Cape improved attack in the last month.

The Stormers have scored 13 tries in their last four matches, including four-try hauls against the Highlanders and Cheetahs.

Sharks boss Jake White expects the Stormers to be difficult to beat.

"If you had asked at the start of the season which teams were going to be dangerous, everyone would have backed the Stormers," said White.

"They were good last year - they got to the Currie Cup final, they are one team hard to break down, and that is a common thread that remains in their game.

"They didn't have a good run early on but they are definitely improving, they're playing better rugby now and their confidence will be much higher now that it was three or four weeks ago. I'm sure it will be another big derby game where we are going to have to play well."

The Stormers head to Durban without regular skipper Jean de Villiers and vice-captain Schalk Burger, who are both sidelined with injuries.

Their absence, along with several others make the Stormers massive underdogs.

"It is a huge blow for us but Schalla's neck spasms were always going to be a 10-day injury," said Coetzee.

"He has made massive progress but he's not ready to play this week. It is not the sort of injury that you can hide.

"I would have liked to have gone into the 'Shark Tank' with the likes of Schalla, Jean de Villiers, Scarra Ntubeni and Gio Aplon to just front up against the Sharks with experienced players.

"We will be up against a team that has a pack loaded with Springboks so we'll need a side that will pitch up with intensive physicality."

Form: Tournament pacesetters,the sharks head into this match brimming with confidence after returning from their Australasian tour with three victories from four matches. They kicked off with a win against before suffering a narrow defeat to the Brumbies but bounced back with memorable victories over the Crusaders and the Blues. The Stormers battled during the tournament's early stages and were at the bottom of the table for a while. In recent weeks they have shown some improvement and last weekend's 33-0 victroy over the Cheetahs followed a 24-8 triumph over the Western Force in Round 14. That result over the Cheetahs was the first time that the men from the Cape have secured back-to-back victories this season.

Previous results:
2013: Sharks won 12-6 in Durban
2013: Stormers won 22-15 in Cape Town
2012: Stormers won 15-12 in Cape Town
2012: Sharks won 25-20 in Durban
2012: Sharks won 26-19 in Cape Town (semi-final)
2011: Stormers won 16-6 in Durbsn

Prediction: Although the Stormers have improved in recent weeks it won't be enough to beat their hosts. Sharks to win by six points!

The teams:

Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 S'bura Sithole, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Francois Steyn, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Tera Mtembu, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Heimer Williams

Stormers (revised): 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damien de Allende, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Alistair Vermaak
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Manuel Carizza, 21 Dylon Frylinck, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Peter Grant

Date: Saturday, May 31
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 19:10 (local, 17:10 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Stuart Berry, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johan Greeff

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