Desperate Sharks and Lions out to feed on each other

James Venter, Reniel Hugo (captain) and Ockie Barnard of the Cell C Sharks during a tribute to legendary Sharks coach Ian MacIntosh at Kings Park in Durban on April 7 this year.

Only a win will be good enough for the Lions if they want to be among the four semi-final teams at the end of the weekend, while the Durban side can secure their spot with a win. Seen here: James Venter (left(, Reniel Hugo (Captain) and Ockie Barnard. Picture: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Published Jun 2, 2023


Cape Town – The Sharks and Lions are both desperate for a Currie Cup win, with a place in the semi-final up for grabs for the home team at Kings Park, and a chance to stay in the hunt for a top-four place for the visiting Johannesburg side.

Only a win will be good enough for the Lions if they want to be among the four teams at the end of the weekend, while the Durban side can secure their semi-final spot with a win.

Both sides are full of United Rugby Championship (URC) players, and it should be a titanic battle tomorrow (kick-off 7.05pm) in the Shark Tank.

Sharks coach Joey Mongalo warned they will have to be patient and not try and control the outcome of the next two games.

"What you can always control is your attitude and action (when you prepare for a match)," Mongalo said about the importance of the next two games.

"The Lions are probably the team that gets the least disruptions because they have no Springboks. So it means they spend the most time together. And this year, I've come to value connections and cohesion. Any Lions team that has been together, will have a lot of connection and cohesion. A second aspect is that they are very well coached by Mziwakhe Nkosi.

"He is one of the top coaches in Johannesburg.”

Mongalo said they will have to watch out for key game breakers in the Lions squad such as Marius Louw, Sanele Nohamba, and winger Edwill van der Merwe.

In their previous Currie Cup encounter at Ellis Park, the Lions picked up a 34-22 win, but since then, the Sharks have tasted victory after victory, which will make the trip to Durban a tricky one for Nkosi's troops.

The Lions, though, will be boosted after a big win over Western Province in their last clash and will arrive in the coastal city full of confidence. This will be the tougher match of the last two clashes and should they win, a top-four place could be their destination with the final clash against the Griffons.

"It's going to be a big game in Durban and we need the five points," Nkosi said of the match.

"They are chasing a home semi-final, and we are desperate for a third or fourth semi-final place. Those are ingredients that can conjure up a big game come seven o’clock [tomorrow].

"It's a play-off game for us. That is the message that we've driven, but like most things, we must control what we can. Our efforts and details, we can't control what the Sharks do.

"Hopefully, we end up in the play-offs. The next two weekends will be important.”

For the Sharks, the equation is easy. A win will secure a home semi-final. Lose, and the last match against WP becomes a tricky one to secure a top-two spot.

The Pumas are the only team that can still leapfrog the Sharks, and they face the Cheetahs on Saturday afternoon. Luckily for the Durban side, they will know by kick-off what to do to book a home play-off.

Sharks team: 15. Nevaldo Fleurs, 14. Yaw Penxe, 13. Murray Koster, 12. Alwayno Visagie, 11. Aphelele Fassi, 10. Lionel Cronje, 9. Tiaan Fourie, 8. Henco Venter, 7. James Venter, 6. Dylan Richardson, 5. Reniel Hugo (captain), 4. Ockie Barnard, 3. Kutha Mchunu, 2. Fez Mbatha, 1. Khwezi Mona.

Replacements: 16. Kerron van Vuuren, 17. Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18. Hanro Jacobs, 19. Marco de Witt, 20. Vincent Tshituka, 21. Bradley Davids, 22. Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23. Marnus Potgieter.

Lions team: 15. Quan Horn, 14. Boldwin Hansen, 13. Manuel Rass, 12. Marius Louw, 11. Edwill van der Merwe, 10. Gianni Lombard, 9. Sanele Nohamba, 8. Francke Horn, 7. Ruan Venter, 6. JC Pretorius, 5. Darrien-Lane Landsberg, 4. Ruben Schoeman, 3. Ruan Dreyer, 2. Morne Brandon, 1. Rynhardt Rijnsburger.

Replacements: 16. Jaco Visagie, 17. Morgan Naude, 18. Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19. Raynard Roets, 20. Emmanuel Tshituka, 21. Morne van den Berg, 22. Rynhardt Jonker, 23. Andries Coetzee.


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