Preview: Sharks v Pumas

Date published: August 14 2014

The defending champions, the Sharks, host the Pumas in the weekend's opening Currie Cup fixture in Durban on Friday.

The defending champions, the Sharks, host the Pumas in the weekend's opening Currie Cup fixture in Durban on Friday.

The Sharks will be keen to deliver an improved performance after securing a hard-fought 31-24 victory over Griquas in their tournament opener in Kimberley last weekend.

Despite that win, the Sharks failed to secure a try-scoring bonus-point in that clash and will be determined to do just that in their first home fixture of the season.

The Sharks welcome back regular fly-half Patrick Lambie – who has been released from the Springbok squad for this match – and he is sure to make an impact off the replacements bench.

Despite being overwhelming underdogs for this game, the Pumas will be no pushovers. The 2013 Currie Cup First Division champions delivered the first upset of the season last weekend when they claimed a 28-21 win over the Free State Cheetahs in Nelspruit.

Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehoue has made just one change to his run-on side. In the second row, Giant Mtyanda comes in for Marius Coetzer, who drops down to the bench.

Speedster Rosco Speckman, who was a late withdrawal with a groin injury ahead of the the Cheetahs encounter returns to their matchday squad via the bench.

Prediction: This should be an entertaining encounter between two well-matched teams.The champions will have too much firepower for their visitors, however. Sharks to win by 12 points!

Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 S'bura Sithole, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Tera Mtembu (c), 7 Ettienne Oosthuizen, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 JC Astle, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Johan Meyer, 19 Francois Kleinhans, 20 Hanco Venter, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Lionel Cronje.

Pumas: 15 JW Bell, 14 Ruwellyn Isbell, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Jerome Pretorius, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Reynier van Rooyen, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corne Steenkamp (c), 5 Giant Mtyanda, 4 Frikkie Spies, 3 DeJay Terblanche, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Vincent Koch.
Replacements: 16 Frank Herne, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Uzair Cassiem, 20 Rosko Specman, 21 JC Roos, 22 Heinrich Steyl.

Date: Friday, August 15
Kick-off: 19:10 local (18:10 BST, 17:10 GMT)
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Christie du Preez
Assistant referees: Lesego Legoete, Cwengile Jadezweni
Television match official: Willie Vos
Assessor: Dennis Immelman