The Sharks bid to keep up the pressure in the South African Conference when they host the Chiefs in Round 14 of Super Rugby in Durban on Saturday.
Sharks v Chiefs, Saturday 19th May, Durban, KO 15:05 (South African time)
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Archie Sehlako (South Africa)
Television match official: Willie Vos (South Africa)
The Sharks were beaten 39-33 in a very watchable local derby away to the Bulls last week and the SA Conference continues to tighten up. After Round 13 the Sharks were in fourth spot, level on points with the Bulls and Jaguares and only 7 points behind the table topping Lions who have played a game more.
The Sharks now return to Durban where their 2 most recent matches ended in victory, 24-17 over the Stormers and most impressively 38-12 over the Highlanders. Earlier matches against NZ opposition came on tour where the Sharks beat the Blues in Auckland (63-40) before going down very late to the Hurricanes (38-37) in Napier.
The Chiefs bounced back from a shock home defeat to Jaguares to come away from Cape Town with a 15-9 win over the Stormers last week. The Chiefs scored the only 2 tries of the game to end the Stormers 100% record at Newlands and they remain in SA for what is their final overseas match before returning home and 4 of their 5 final matches will be staged in Hamilton.
One earlier match against SA opposition saw the Chiefs have to work hard to see off the Bulls 41-28 in Hamilton in Round 5.
Coming into Round 14 the Chiefs were fourth best in the NZ Conference, 1 point behind the Highlanders, 10 shy of the Hurricanes and 11 behind the table topping Crusaders who have played 1 game more than the chasers.
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Makazole Mapimpi
Chiefs – 15 Scott Stevenson, 14 Sean Whanui, 13 Charlie Ngatai (c), 12 Johnny Faauli, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Marty McKenzie, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Liam Messam, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Michael Allardice, 4 Tyler Ardron, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Subs: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Sosefo Alaimano, 19 Jesse Parete, 20 Matt Matich, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Luteru Laulala, 23 Toni Pulu.
Recent Head to Head (any venue)
2016 New Plymouth Chiefs 24-22 Sharks (Tries 2-3)
2015 Durban Sharks 12-11 Chiefs (Tries 0-1)
2013 Hamilton Chiefs 37-29 Sharks (Tries 4-4)
2012 Hamilton Chiefs 37-6 Sharks (Tries 4-0) (Final)
2012 Durban Sharks 12-18 Chiefs (Tries 0-2)
2011 Hamilton Chiefs 15-9 Sharks (Tries 0-0)
Sharks -6.5 points 9/10 WSB, Playabets
Chiefs +7.5 points 0.92 BetXchange
Note, odds quoted are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change.
The early sentiment from the GFTG Forum last week was for the Highlanders -7.5 against the Lions which duly obliged and for Round 14 the Sharks have attracted interest.
An early play on the minus is put up, in my view you could make a case for the Sharks on their recent home win over the Highlanders regardless of the Chiefs selection problems with an All Black training camp and lengthy injury list so the current best minus would appear to have plenty going for it even though the line has been on the move.
Remember you can have your own say on all this week’s matches on our discussion forum