Successive defeats to first the Cheetahs and then the Crusaders have seen the Sharks fall from being top contenders to fighting for a play-off spot.
The bye week, back to back losses before that, and wins by the “wrong” teams, sees the Sharks languishing in sixth on the log. A win today may be important to keep the Sharks in the hunt for the play-offs but it is crucial if they have any hope of having a home semi-final.
The Highlanders’ play-off chances being something of the past, back to back defeats and the trip to South Africa could all conspire against them today allowing the Sharks to take the much needed win.
Expect an almighty clash in the front rows at scrum time with both sides boasting extremely strong front rows. The Sharks welcome back Ruan Pienaar but have lost Adi Jacobs for this match.
Was a one week break enough to help the Sharks secure a bonus point victory over the Highlanders?
Or will the Highlanders feel they have a point to prove after last week’s loss to the Stormers?
Venue: Absa Stadium, Durban
Kick-off: 15:00 Local time
Referee: Phillip Bosch (South Africa)
ARs: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Pro Legoete (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Riaan Swanepoel, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Johann Muller (captain)/Albert van den Berg, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 John Smit, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
16 Deon Carstens, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Albert van den Berg/Johan Snyman, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Monty Dumond, 22 Andries Strauss
1 Jamie Mackintosh, 2 David Hall, 3 Clint Newland, 4 Hayden Triggs, 5 Tom Donnelly, 6 Adam Thomson, 7 Alando Soakai, 8 George Naoupu/Steven Setephano, 9 Jimmy Cowan (captain), 10 Mathew Berquist, 11 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 12 Daniel Bowden, 13 Jason Shoemark, 14 Ben Smith, 15 Israel Dagg
16 Jason Rutledge , 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Josh Bekhuis, 19 Steven Setephano/Tim Boys,
20 Sean Romans, 21 Johnny Leota/Jayden Hayward, 22 Kendrick Lynn