DURBAN – It might seem premature to talk about must-win games for the Sharks in the Currie Cup, but you would have to assume that the Durbanites must beat Griquas on Friday night before embarking on a mini-tour.
The Sharks play the Bulls this coming Wednesday and the Lions next Saturday, and they surely want to play those challenging games with the platform of having won the two home games that have kick-started their campaign – the Pumas last week (won 29-0) and now Griquas.
The men from Kimberley seem to love playing the Sharks in Durban, and over the years have had a fair number of upsets.
They also fancy themselves when they host the Sharks in diamond country, but you would think that a correctly focused Sharks team will sort out the visitors on Friday (7pm kickoff).
“There is no chance of us underestimating them,” coach Robert du Preez said.
“They are a very good attacking side and scored more than 40 points against the Bulls and the Lions in their two losses in the opening fortnight. So our defence has to be spot-on.”
Du Preez said that his team had learned a great deal from their laboured victory over the Pumas last week, when they led just 3-0 at halftime.
“We made 14 unforced errors in the first half and you cannot build threatening attacks when the opposition are continually putting the ball in the scrum, and you have to do the defending,” the coach said.
“The only positive from that first half is that we did not let them score from all that possession.”
The Griquas side will be equally determined to register their first win, and they will feel Kings Park is a lucky charm.
Over the last two seasons, the Sharks have beaten Griquas in three of the four matches between the sides, but going back not that long ago, Griquas have had two wins in Durban, the last being in 2014.
“They are not going to surprise us,” a stern Du Preez said.
“This Sharks team has learned the hard way that no team can be underestimated, and we know that a determined team like Griquas has to be taken on from the first whistle and we have to gain dominance, otherwise it becomes a long day at the office.”
While the Sharks have made just two changes to their team (Tyler Paul at lock for injured Hyron Andrews and Jacques Vermeulen at flank for rested Jean-Luc du Preez), Griquas have made nine changes to their side.
A backline reshuffle will see George Whitehead start at fullback and André Swarts comes in at flyhalf in a new halfback combination with scrumhalf Rudi van Rooyen.