Sharks set to test Lions' good form
February 19, 2009
Tendai Mtawarira slots in on the Sharks bench © Getty Images
The Sharks have made just one change from the side that defeated the Stormers last weekend for the Super 14 match with the Lions at the ABSA Stadium.
Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira has recovered from a sternum injury and takes his place on the Sharks bench for a game that will test the Lions early season promise to the limit.
"We have a proud record at home, we have done really well over the last three years, and we are proud of our performances here," said Sharks skipper Johann Muller. "But it's going to be tough, that Lions side is definitely not the same side that played in the Currie Cup and Super 14 last year, they are much better, they've grown up in the last six months.
"They have a big pack of forwards, some good loosies, great ball-stealers and some really talented backs, but we're really looking forward to playing at home."
With the Lions taking away five points from a thrilling win over the Cheetahs last weekend they too have resisted the urge to tinker with their line-up, sending out the same starting XV. Jaque Fourie continues in the centre while Earl Rose keeps Andre Pretorius on the bench once again.
The Lions' form will give the Sharks plenty to think about at the weekend, and Muller admits that there are a few worries from his perspective.
"There are a couple," he said. "We missed a few one-on-one tackles against the Stormers, I think both their tries came off silly one-on-one missed tackles and the second is that we gave away a few penalties and free-kicks for going off our feet at ruck-time and coming in from the side, so if we can sort out those two areas, we'll be all right.
Sharks: Stefan Terblanche; Odwa Ndungane, Adrian Jacobs, Francois Steyn, JP Pietersen; Ruan Pienaar, Rory Kockott; Deon Carstens, John Smit, Jannie du Plessis, Steven Sykes, Johann Muller (capt), Keegan Daniel, Jean Deysel, Ryan Kankowski
Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Alistair Hargreaves, Jacques Botes, Ross Cronje, Riaan Swanepoel, Luzuko Vulindlu
Lions: Louis Ludik, Ashwin Willemse, Jaque Fourie, Doppies la Grange, Henno Mentz, Earl Rose, Jano Vermaak, Willem Alberts, Franco van der Merwe, Cobus Grobbelaar (capt), Anton van Zyl, Gerhard Mostert, Gert Muller, Willie Wepener, Heinke van der Merwe
Replacements: Hans van Dyk, Lawrence Sephaka, Rynard Landman, Todd Clever, Chris Jonck, Andre Pretorius, Jannie Boshoff.