Looking at the Currie Cup log is sobering reading for Sharks fans and it will explain why their team will be in desperation mode against the Cheetahs this afternoon at Jonnson Kings Park, 3pm.
The Durban team is sixth out of the seven teams on the log, and to have any chance of making the play-offs they have to win today’s match (their last pool game at home) and also beat the Lions next Sunday at Ellis Park and the Bulls the following week at Loftus.
One win in three outings is not pretty but then Western Province, the Pumas and the Bulls have also won only one match to leave the door open for the Sharks if they start winning, with the Lions and Griquas at the top of the log already looking like hosting semi-finals.
The Free Staters suffered a narrow two-point defeat last week to the Lions, which marked their first of the season, and they will be determined to bounce back and remain on the top-end of the standings to stay in the hunt for a possible home semi-final.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt has made four changes to his team that lost to the Pumas in Nelspruit, two each among the forwards and backs. Mzamo Majola comes in for Juan Schoeman at loosehead prop, while Luke Stringer makes way for Jacques Vermeulen on the side of the scrum.
Among the backs, Aphelele Fassi takes over the fullback jersey from Rhyno Smith while Sanele Nohamba will start at scrumhalf with Cameron Wright playing off the bench.
“We were very disappointed with the result against the Pumas,” said Everitt. “I felt that we started off really well in the first half, put ourselves in a good position to get the result and then the team went into self-demolition mode in the second half.”
He identified the second half as the real area of concern when the team somehow couldn’t maintain the intensity and accuracy they had shown in the first half.
“Individual errors crept in, we gave away penalties, we gave away a yellow card and we pretty much didn’t give ourselves an opportunity,” he explained
“We have gone back to the drawing board, worked hard this week and worked on our individual skills to put in a better performance against Free State.”
Sharks - 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jeremy Ward (c-c), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Tera Mtembu (c-c), 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Phendulani Buthelezi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Mzamo Majola.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Evan Roos, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Rhyno Smith.
Cheetahs - 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Carel-Jan Coetzee, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Tian Meyer (c), 8 Henco Venter, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Charles Marais.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Reinach Venter, 19 Walt Steenkamp, 20 Gerhard Olivier, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Dian Badenhorst/Tapiwa Mafura, 23 Ruan Pienaar.@MikeGreenaway67
Independent On Saturday