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Preview: Sharks v Brumbies

15th March 2013 08:36

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Odwa Ndungane Sharks v Brumbies 2012

Sharks v Brumbies: Plenty at stake

Although it's still early in the tournament, there's plenty at stake in Saturday's clash between the Sharks and Brumbies in Durban.

Along with the Bulls, they are the only unbeaten sides in the competition.

In 16 previous matches, both sides have won on eight occasions and the average score in all their matches since 1998 is 25-23 to the Brumbies.

But this statistic changes dramatically in Durban, where the Sharks have lost only once out of seven previous matches with the Brumbies - a 21-10 defeat in 2007. The average score at Kings Park is 25-18 to the home team.

Sharks assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards expects a tough battle but is confident the hosts can be victorious.

"We're in for a massive match this weekend and so are they," he said.

"It's a home match for us, that's the most important thing: the result is what it's all about playing at home. The guys also enjoy playing international opposition and the fact that they're on top of their conference means that we have to really focus.

"But the guys love the challenge and they can get easily motivated knowing they are in for a big game.

"The Brumbies show some South African styles with their driving mentality - they drive quite a bit - yet they also maintain their running patterns that they do so well.

"They're the leading Australian side which shows in their log position. The way they dismantled the Waratahs was fantastic for them and they played a great game.

"We know we have a lot of work to do, in all departments, but we're excited, we're playing an overseas side and we're really looking forward to it."

Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen is under no illusions about the task that awaits the 2001 and 2004 champions.

"The challenge of Super Rugby is that you need to be able to adapt your style to be able to play against Australian, South African and Kiwi sides," he said.

"This will be the biggest test of our season so far. The Sharks have been building into the season with wins.

"We know going up against last year's finalists on Saturday is tough and these next couple of weeks will be one of the biggest challenges we face this year."

Jake White's troops have not lost an away game since a 36-34 defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria last April. They will fancy their chances of maintaining that record as the Sharks have battled to score tries during their campaign.

In their three previous matches this season the home side have only crossed the whitewash on two occasions and both those tries were scored in their opener against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Prediction: Despite having home ground advantage, the Sharks' inability to score tries will prove their undoing. It will be a close affair but the Brumbies will win by four points!

The teams:

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Keegan Daniel (c), 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.

Brumbies 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Fotu Auelua, 7 George Smith, 6 Ben Mowen (c), 5 Sam Carter, 4 Peter Kimlin, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Scott Fardy, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Clyde Rathbone.

Date: Saturday, March 16
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Reuben Rossouw (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

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Super Rugby Table
PosTeamPPts
1Sharks831
2Brumbies825
3Chiefs825
4Waratahs824
5Western Force823
6Crusaders822
7Hurricanes821
8Highlanders719
9Bulls919
10Lions916
11Blues816
12Reds816
13Melbourne Rebels816
14Stormers810
15Cheetahs99