DURBAN – The Sharks have won only once in Sydney in the 24 years of Super Rugby, so today they will have to overturn that considerable weight of history if they are to beat the Waratahs (11.45am).
The Sharks’ only away win against the Waratahs was way back in 2000, and what made that victory so astonishing is that it was the Sharks’ only one under then-coach Hugh Reece-Edwards.
Since then, the Sharks have lost eight in a row in Sydney, but one way of looking at it is that they are surely due a win.
And this is especially the case considering they have lost their last two games, and will be desperate to avoid three in a row.
Those losses were in Durban, and the Sharks are generally good travellers, so it is more than possible that the Sharks will get it right in this tour opener.
Also, the Tahs have been poor against South African teams for some time.
This match is their first against SA opposition this season, and since the beginning of 2017, they’ve won just one of their seven games against SA sides, that victory coming against the Stormers in February 2018.
On the other side of the coin, the Sharks have lost their last two matches in Australia, and they’ve not lost more consecutive games there since a run of four straight defeats in Australia across the 2008 and 2009 campaigns.
Interestingly, no side has scored more tries in the opening quarter of games this season than the Waratahs, who have crossed eight times in that period, so the Sharks are going to have to start well, especially on defence.
Speaking of defence, Waratahs captain Michael Hooper has made the most tackles of any player this year (122), and no doubt he will often be squaring up to Dan du Preez, the Sharks No 8 having made the most carries of any forward in 2019 (106).
Independent On Saturday