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Xerox Golden Lions 10 10 48
Vodacom Blue Bulls 10 8 39
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Super Rugby 2015: Round 10

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks, Super Rugby on 17 Apr 2015 at 09:43
Tagged with : , ,

The Bully Boys head to Durban this week, where a wounded Sharks team lies in wait, seeking vengeance after what they considered an unfair reversal against these same foes back in round 3.

Sharks v Bulls (Saturday 17h05)

A lot has changed since that heady day at Loftus back in late February, though; remember, back then it was the Bulls who had lost their opening two matches and were said to be on the brink of a crisis. The Sharks, after their opening blip against the Cheetahs, had recovered to stuff the Lions at Kings Park and headed to Loftus high on confidence, with a big win firmly in their sights. A combination of rather wonky refereeing and even worse pillar defence saw them return with tails firmly between legs and nary even a losing bonus point. While the Bulls went on to win four of their next five fixtures, the Sharks have been to Hell and (almost back), plumbing the depths in their big loss at home to a Crusaders side that was beaten comfortably at Loftus just the week before. Coincidentally, it’s once again the home side in this contest starting at a third successive defeat.

That the Sharks were better against the Lions last week is not debatable. The team pulled together and delivered an encouraging attacking display, while the defensive issues have been identified and worked on during the week. The Bulls come into this match from a rather different place, having put up a big score against the admittedly rather awful Reds at Loftus. The visitors have made changes that strengthen their team on paper, but as we’ve seen, changes in key position like hooker and flyhalf tend to disrupt rhythm a little, at least initially, so we’ll need to see how long it takes for their man to find each other.

It’s certainly a strong pack on paper, though, but then again, so is the one the Sharks have named. I would back the Sharks to edge the forward contest, particularly in the set pieces where their scrum should dominate and their lineout hopefully prove slightly stronger.

It’s unlikely to be one-way traffic for either side up-front, though, meaning the halfbacks will have a fair bit of work to do. Fred Zeilinga missed out on a deserved Junior Bok call-up a few years back when a certain Handre Pollard was picked ahead of him straight out of school. I can’t think of a better opportunity for the quiet Glenwood lad to show Dawie Theron that he may have missed a trick. He’ll need to step up and deliver a far stronger performance than he did last week, though – one can’t see the Sharks winning unless Zeilinga plays out of his skin and controls the game.

I’m going with the heart here and backing the desperate Sharks to continue the upward curve. Sharks to win by 8 points at home.

Sharks: 15 Odwa Ndungane, 14 S’bura Sithole, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marco Wentzel (captain), 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Giant Mtayanda, 20 Etienne Oosthuizen, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 SP Marais

Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Pieter Labuschagne, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jurgen Visser.

My other picks are:
Chiefs by 3
Canes by 6
Highlanders by 9
Brumbies by 4
Stormers by 9
Cheetahs by 5


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