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Xerox Golden Lions 10 10 48
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DHL Western Province 10 7 35
Toyota Free State Cheetahs 10 3 24
Cell C Sharks 10 4 22
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Still in the hunt


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 30 Jun 2014 at 09:11
Tagged with : , , , , , , ,

Saturday’s unexpected Crusaders loss in Wellington has left the Cell C Sharks in a better position than many would have feared, with only two full rounds of Super Rugby round robin action yet to come.

The Sharks went into the June break clinging to a slender 2-point lead at the summit of the table, but with both Crusaders and Waratahs enjoying a game in hand, it was widely expected that when play resumed for all teams, the Durbanites would most likely find themselves in third position. The Aussies, however, did stick to the appointed script, handing the Brumbies a hiding on Saturday and in so doing racing to both a maiden Aussie conference title and top spot on the combined log – where they now enjoy a three-point buffer.

The race for first place, in other words, looks close to unwinnable for the Sharks, since the Tahs are highly unlikely to lose against either the Highlanders (at home) or sub-standard Reds (away). With Jake White’s men holding a 3-point lead over both the Crusaders and the Highlanders, though – who are still to face each other in a last round that could decide the fate of the kiwi conference – there is every chance for a second-place finish and the associated knock-out advantages that come with it.

There’s little doubt that Saturday’s results will have changed White’s thinking to an extent. With the knowledge that the SA-conference-winning Sharks cannot end lower than third, had they started the fortnight in that position, White may have been tempted to risk some less-experienced combinations against the Cheetahs and Stormers. Now that winning both games is non-negotiable if a second-place finish is to be achieved, you would imagine that a strongest-available line-up must surely be the plan, particularly for this weekend’s match in Bloemfontein.

Pat Lambie, Anton Bresler and Odwa Ndungane are expected to bolster the Sharks’ ranks this weekend, while Beast Mtawarira and Willem Alberts remain doubtful.



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