Will Sharks stick to their authentic game on synthetic pitch?
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Durban- The Sharks’ venture into the unknown continues today when they play on a synthetic pitch for the first time at Scotstoun Stadium, home of the Glasgow Warriors (4pm kick-off).
Last week, the Durbanites played their first-ever United Rugby Championship match, a 42-17 defeat to Irish giants Munster and now they tackle another of the stronger sides in the competition and on a surface that will be a new experience, and which is going to give them plenty of reminders to take away with them in the form of “roasties”.
The players have been warned to pad as many joints as possible and to expect the ball to bounce higher and quicker than it would on real grass.
Called a 4G (fourth generation) pitch, Sharks coach Sean Everitt says the surface will suit the fleet of foot, and the Sharks have many speedsters.
“When you compare the stats of training on grass and 4G, you get more high-speed running. We've trained on the pitch and I think the guys have adapted well, so we don't see it as a threat.”
The Warriors have two South Africans in their ranks in Oli Kebble and Kyle Steyn while British Lions players Ali Price and Zander Fagerson and Scotland lock Richie Gray are well known to a global audience.
Glasgow are on a four-game winning streak at Scotstoun, having last lost there to Ulster in March, ironically the same team that beat them in Belfast last weekend.
Everitt said the big focus has been sorting out the discipline.
“We had a look at the replay and 17 penalties aren't good enough although at times, I think the 50/50 calls went against us," Everitt said. “We need to adapt better to the interpretations of the maul because they are slightly different.”
The most notable change to the Sharks team is the movement of lock Gerbrandt Grobler to blindside flank. Everitt also aims to negate the influence of the towering Gray by having an extra line-out option in his pack.
Grobler says he has played at Scotstoun four times for the various European clubs he has played for.
“Not much is going to change for me at flank — it’s just a number on my back and I have played many times in that position,” Grobler said.
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Werner Kok, 12 Murray Koster, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), 7 Gerbrandt Grobler, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Khwezi Mona
Substitutes: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Hyron Andrews, 21 James Venter, 22 Tian Meyer 23 Jeremy Ward