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Team Points
Premier Division
Xerox Golden Lions 10 10 48
Vodacom Blue Bulls 10 8 39
DHL Western Province 10 7 35
Toyota Free State Cheetahs 10 3 24
Cell C Sharks 10 4 22
Steval Pumas 10 3 17
Eastern Province Kings 10 2 12
ORC Griquas 10 1 8
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Super Rugby 2015: Round 4

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Stormers, Super Rugby on 5 Mar 2015 at 14:35
Tagged with : , , ,

Let’s see what the big match at Newlands holds in store for us.

Stormers v Sharks (Saturday 19h10)

Wow. Talk about the punches that just keep coming for the Sharks. After they lost the opener against the Cheetahs, they at least had a slightly “softer” game against the Lions (sorry Lions) in which they could find their way back to the saddle. That’s not the case this week, with last week’s heartbreak at Loftus followed up by what looks like mission impossible against the unbeaten Stormers.

The Sharks have picked a strong team on paper this week, with the pack in particular looking very physical. They will want a marked improvement in work rate from the tight forwards this week and will again hope to build a platform in the set pieces, a tactic that ended up not really working the week before. While pundits will look to the individual tussle between Matt Stevens and Steven Kitshoff in the front row as one where the visitors may battle to dominate, the Sharks will feel that they had no opportunity to show off the strength of their scrum at Loftus and will, I’m sure, put in a big effort at this set piece. The Stormers looked a little vulnerable at lineout time against the Lions too, so the Sharks will aim to make the most of any slip ups here.

Eben Etzebeth returns to add a hard edge to the Stormers pack – the Sharks countering with their own “hard man” in Willem Alberts and it remains to be seen which of these returning Boks proves to be the most ready for this clash. Aside from the hard-as-nails Duane Vermeulen at 8, there’s a bit of a lighter look to the home side’s back row and you’d fancy the Sharks will apply a lot of pressure at the breakdown with their somewhat bigger men trying to shift the momentum. The counter to that argument, though, is a real need to improve defence on the ruck fringes and the Sharks may in fact opt to commit fewer players to defensive breakdowns, lest they face a repeat of the soft tries conceded at Loftus.

For the Sharks, though, you feel they really will have to win this one up front. The major reason is that Frans Steyn and JP Pietersen – despite the fantastic shape they’re in – are probably going to battle to really bring the sort of fireworks on attack that are the stock in trade of their opposite numbers in midfield. Look to the big centres in black to play back towards the traffic and keep the bigger Sharks forwards in the contest, rather than seek width against a backline that’s quicker, more skillful and frankly in far better attacking form.

Look for a simple plan from the Sharks, in other words, with the ability of Cobus Reinach and Pat Lambie to execute again coming sharply into focus. If the Sharks cannot control possession and dominate territory in this game, they are not going to come anywhere close to winning.

With my hand on my heart I cannot pick a winner here, so I’m going to close my eyes and back the Sharks to do what I’ve suggested above and sneak a win by 5 points.

Stormers – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.

Sharks – 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Thomas du Toit.
Subs: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Marco Wentzel, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 André Esterhuizen, 23 Jack Wilson.

In other games, here are the winners I see:
Chiefs to beat the Highlanders by 15 points.
Brumbies over the Force by a big margin – maybe even 20?
Blues and Lions to play out a high scoring affair, with the home side winning by 8.
Waratahs to pip the Reds by 6.
Cheetahs and Bulls to draw.


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