The Leopards team to face the Sharks on Friday night has been named and as is so often the case with these smaller teams, there’s a fair smattering of players in the mix who have very close links to the KZN union indeed.
Starting at the back, fullback Danie Dames represented the Sharks XV in last year’s Vodacom Cup, before heading back to Potch for Currie Cup and Varsity Cup rugby. Outside centre Jovan Bowles – one of the standout players for the Leopards this year – was born in Durban and played for the Sharks at under 19, under 21 and Vodacom Cup level, before heading to the Valke in 2006. He then spent a good few years on the Sevens circuit, before moving to the Leopards last year. Left wing Dumi Matyeshana is another to have represented the Sharks, having been part of the 2007 Currie Cup squad.
The balance of the backline is pretty potent, with former Boland winger Deon Scholtz regularly appearing on the Currie Cup scoresheet, Lions discard Walter Venter at inside centre and Michael Bondesio, one of the form scrumhalves of the competition. Flyhlaf Neill Jacbos is just another from the seemingly endless line of pivots produced by Affies in Pretoria over the last few years.
I’m pretty sure that number 8, Riaan Swanepoel, is in no way related to the Sharks centre with the same name, but in Pellow van der Westhuizem, the hooker, there is another player who represented the Sharks in 2007. On the bench, lock Draad Linde is the brother of Robin Linde, a former Natal age-group lock who went on to represent Western Province and the Stormers before establishing himself as one of the top scrummaging locks in the French Top 14. Captain Wilhelm Koch was a familiar face on the Lions scene back in 2007 and 2008, before heading back to Potch to continue his career there.
Here is the Leopards team fro Friday night’s game:
15 Danie Dames; 14 Deon Scholtz, 13 Jovan Bowles, 12 Walter Venter, 11 Dumisani Matyeshana; 10 Neill Jacobs, 9 Michael Bondesio; 8 Riaan Swanepoel, 7 Wilhelm Koch (capt), 6 Christo van Niekerk, 5 Ligtoring Landman, 4 Anthonie Gronum/Brad Mockford, 3 Os van der Walt, 2 Pellow van der Westhuizen, 1 BG Uys.
Reserves: 16 Gavin Williamson, 17 Aranos Coetzee, 18 Draad Linde, 19 RW Kember, 20 Jean Tiedt, 21 Clayton Durand, 22 Jan van Zyl.