CAPE TOWN - Springbok Coenie Oosthuizen’s return to the Sharks line-up over the past couple of weeks has not gone unnoticed down at Newlands. Oosthuizen made his comeback from a long term knee injury last week against the Golden Lions, and is set for a further run out in the top-of-table clash against Western Province in Cape Town on Saturday.
With the 29-year-old prop eager to get stuck in after 10 months on the sidelines, saying earlier this week “It is so annoying when you can’t vent your frustrations by running into somebody on the rugby field”, it is clear that the Province front-row are in for a demanding afternoon, especially with fellow front-ranker Thomas “Tank” du Toit in fine form for the Sharks too.
“Traditionally that has been the Sharks’ strength (scrummaging),” said WP attack coach Dawie Snyman. “Coenie at his best is a great rugby player, as well as Thomas who is playing good rugby. Traditionally, the Sharks are very physical. They put pressure on you at the contact points, are strong in the solid facets. We definitely have to be sharp in that area and put them under pressure.”
Along with WP, the Sharks are the only other unbeaten team left in the competition. Even more ominous for Province, the visitors’ overall gameplay has improved as the Currie Cup has progressed with last week’s victory over the Lions a confidence booster.
And despite the personnel changing markedly in both teams, particularly WP’s Man of the Match in the final last year Robert du Preez now wearing the Sharks No 10 jersey, the Sharks will still be smarting from last year’s defeat in their own backyard.
“It will be at back of the Sharks’ head that we beat them in the final in Durban last year. They will definitely want to come down here and take revenge,” said Snyman. “They have built momentum. They were not good at their first few matches, but now they play with confidence. They put the Lions under pressure and created a lot of opportunities.”
We caught up with @CellC Sharks Scrumhalf, Cameron Wright, ahead of #OurSharks Coastal Derby against DHL @WP_RUGBY. He let us in on how the team are currently sharpening their skills for this epic encounter! #OurSharksForever #WPvSHA pic.twitter.com/hwk406eLM8
Province took their foot off the pedal in Saturday’s 38-12 win over Griquas, especially after leading 33-0. Coach John Dobson was not impressed with the second half display, claiming that it actually “felt like a loss”.
“Our discipline was weak in the second half. We gave up penalties, which we took possession of. You lose your rhythm if you do not have the ball for a long time,” Snyman said. “The major reason for the slump in the second half was discipline. Robert, Curwin (Bosch) and Louis (Schreuder) can put you under pressure with their tactical kicking. We will have to make sure our discipline is up to standard.”