DURBAN - The Sharks will be searching for the Perfect 10 on Friday evening when they host the Lions in a Currie Cup match at Kings Park (7.15pm).
The Sharks have lost just one match in this year’s competition, way back on July 21 when they got a bit of a hiding from a full-strength Cheetahs side that has subsequently split into Pro 14 and Currie Cup incarnations. The Sharks have not lost since, playing incrementally better each week to nail nine in a row.
That impressive run has made them runaway log leaders (43 points), with the Cheetahs in second place way back on 30 points, although they do have a game in hand while the Sharks have a bye next week.
The Sharks are highly focused on bagging the win before the bye. They don’t want to lose momentum now having done so much hard work and want to return from the week off in high spirits as they set their sights on the final round robin match of the competition, against Western Province at Kings Park on October 14. The following week the Sharks will be at home for a semi-final, that having been secured by their win over the Bulls last week.
“Of course we want to make it 10 in a row but it is more about not taking a step backwards when our simple goal the whole season has been to improve on the previous week,” coach Robert du Preez said. “It is vital that we don’t lose focus.”
Up against the Sharks are a Lions team that are currently in fourth place on the log on 25 points, and nervously looking over their shoulders at the dangerous Pumas (24), who are desperate to pip the Lions for a semi-final spot.
So on Friday night, we will have a hungry Lions team that has everything to play for up against a Sharks side determined to keep the foot on the accelerator and continue to build Kings Park into a fortress ahead of the play-offs.
“The Lions have been getting better through the competition, certainly since we played them in the first round,” Du Preez said. “They have some seriously good players who have a point to prove, such as their centres.
"Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Harold Vorster are exceptional players. Rohan wants to get back into the Bok team and Vorster will be a Bok one day, the way he is playing.”
The Sharks will well remember what the Lions can do when they get going, particularly with that exceptionally strong midfield. And up against them are a young Sharks midfield in Tristan Blewett (making his run-on debut) and Marius Louw.
It will be a tough test for a Sharks midfield that is without injured players in Lukhanyo Am and Jeremy Ward.
The pressure will be taken off them if the Sharks pack continues its outstanding form, thus denying the likes of Janse van Rensburg and Vorster front-foot ball.