Planet Rugby

Preview: Cheetahs v Sharks

03rd July 2014 19:02

Share:

lourens adriaanse sharks cheetahs

Rare start: Lourens Adriaanse

With top spot in the South African Conference already secured the Sharks face a potential banana peel in Bloemfontein as they seek a home Super Rugby semi-final.

Jake White is still ruing the home loss to the Stormers just before the June international break that cost his side the number one spot in the overall table. And although the Durbanites have won four times in their last five visits to the Free State Stadium, they will be wary of slipping up again.

Indeed, South African derbies are never forgone conclusions and whilst the Cheetahs have been below-par this season, they certainly possession the necessary tools to upset the pre-season favourites and will fancy their chances of landing a sucker-punch win.

"They have knocked over some good sides (Bulls, Stormers and Brumbies) at home and despite all the Springbok players they have from the weekend, it's not really about the players they have in their roster, they're a good team," said White.

"We just need to make sure we prepare ourselves properly. We have a good away record, probably better than our home record this year strangely enough, although it's not something we are really concentrating on or giving too much attention to. We just want to make sure we win."

White has come in for some heavy criticism for 'overplaying' his key forwards - especially his front row - and fatigue was blamed for the shock loss to the Stormers.

With a play-offs spot in the bag, the former Bok coach has the luxury of rotating his squad as the Du Plessis brothers and Willem Alberts are given a desperately-needed break.

While it might be a convenient time - from a league standings point of view - to rest some stars, the fact that the Cheetahs are lining up an all-Springbok front row of their own could well put the Sharks' set-piece under pressure. (Lest we forget the last time Bismarck du Plessis didn't start, the Sharks were thrashed at home by the Highlanders).

Just as significant is the selection of Tim Swiel at fly-half as the Sharks prepare for the imminent return of Pat Lambie, which allows Frans Steyn to return to midfield. Having had a rest after walking out of the Bok camp in a huff, Steyn is one to watch this weekend. Ryno Benjamin had better bring his tackling boots...

White has - and will continue to - come in for criticism for his team's conservative tactics. Only the lowly Lions have scored less tries than the Sharks this season, a stat reminiscent of the Stormers' table-topping campaign of 2012. We all know how that ended. White can only hope that his side can produce a bit more spark than his former assistant Allister Coetzee's outfit did in the latter stages of their failed attempt at the title glory.

But if ever there was a team against which the Sharks could rack up a few tries, it's the Cheetahs. The Free Staters have shipped more points per game (31.9) than any other side in the competition in 2014.

A four-try win must be the Sharks' objective as they look to take a full haul of 10 points from their remaining two games in an effort to finish the league phase first.

Having seen his Brumbies lose the title decider in Hamilton last year, White knows better than anyone the importance of a home final.

"All the pressure will be on the Sharks. They want to secure a home semi-final and need to win their next two games, but we've already seen this year that anything can happen in South African derbies," said Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske.

"The Sharks' pack is big and physical, so if we want to win, we will need to take them on upfront."

Form: The Cheetahs have won just three games all season and were thumped 33-0 by the Stormers in their last outing. They have lost four of their seven games on home soil. The Sharks are coming off a shock loss to the Stormers before the June break but have won four of their six away games this season.

Previous results:
2014: Sharks won 19-8 in Durban
2013: Cheetahs won 12-6 in Durban
2013: Sharks won 29-22 in Bloemfontein
2012: Sharks won 34-15 in Durban
2012: Sharks won 34-20 in Bloemfontein

Prediction: The Cheetahs have the worst defensive record in the competition, while the Sharks have conceded the fewest points. Those stats point to a clear winner. Sharks by ten points.

The teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Ryno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Caylib Oosthuizen, 17 Luan de Bruin, 18 Carl Wegner, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Hennie Daniller

Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 S'bura Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel (c), 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Thomas du Toit, 17 Bismarck du Plessis, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Odwa Ndungane, 23 Tonderai Chavhanga.

Date: Saturday, July 5
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 19:10 (local, 17:10 GMT)
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Saturday , August 2
Waratahs vs Crusaders19:40
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Saturday , July 26
Crusaders 38 - 6 SharksCrusaders vs Sharks Report
Waratahs 26 - 8 BrumbiesWaratahs vs Brumbies Report
Saturday , July 19
Brumbies 32 - 30 ChiefsBrumbies vs Chiefs Report
Sharks 31 - 27 HighlandersSharks vs Highlanders Report
Saturday , July 12
Crusaders 34 - 8 HighlandersCrusaders vs Highlanders Report
Reds 3 - 34 WaratahsReds vs Waratahs Report
Lions 60 - 25 CheetahsLions vs Cheetahs Report
Stormers 10 - 34 SharksStormers vs Sharks Report
Friday , July 11
Blues 8 - 11 ChiefsBlues vs Chiefs Report
Brumbies 47 - 25 Western ForceBrumbies vs Western Force Report
Bulls 40 - 7 Melbourne RebelsBulls vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Sunday , July 6
Waratahs 44 - 16 HighlandersWaratahs vs Highlanders Report
Saturday , July 5
Crusaders 21 - 13 BluesCrusaders vs Blues Report
Western Force 30 - 20 RedsWestern Force vs Reds Report
Stormers 16 - 0 BullsStormers vs Bulls Report
Cheetahs 27 - 20 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
Friday , July 4
Chiefs 24 - 16 HurricanesChiefs vs Hurricanes Report
Lions 34 - 17 Melbourne RebelsLions vs Melbourne Rebels Report
More Super Rugby results
International Match
Saturday , June 28
South Africa 55 - 6 ScotlandSouth Africa vs Scotland Report
More International Match results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 16 - 9 CrusadersHurricanes vs Crusaders Report
Waratahs 39 - 8 BrumbiesWaratahs vs Brumbies Report
Western Force 14 - 40 BluesWestern Force vs Blues Report
Friday , June 27
Highlanders 29 - 25 ChiefsHighlanders vs Chiefs Report
Melbourne Rebels 20 - 36 RedsMelbourne Rebels vs Reds Report
More Super Rugby results
International Match
Saturday , June 21
Australia 39 - 13 FranceAustralia vs France Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00