Sharks ready to crunch WP

10 October 2017 - 07:37 By CRAIG RAY
Robert du Preez (Head Coach) of the Sharks.
Robert du Preez (Head Coach) of the Sharks.

The Sharks have safely secured a Currie Cup home semifinal but five teams are in with a chance of nabbing three remaining places when the final round takes place at the weekend.

Western Province, the Free State Cheetahs, Golden Lions, Blue Bulls and the Pumas are second to fifth respectively with just six points covering those teams.

WP let a golden chance to secure their place slip when they went down 29-20 to the Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Sunday.

That result moved the Lions to fourth on the standings on 30 points, one point behind Free State. The teams clash at Ellis Park at the weekend in a match that could eliminate one of them.

If the Cheetahs can take at least two bonus points from the match they will be in the last four and the Lions simply have to win to qualify although they could sneak in the back door if they lose but take one point from the match, depending how other results go.

To muddy the waters further, WP meet the log-leaders Sharks in Durban.

The Sharks have won 10 in a row and, even though they are nearly lapping the field, they won't be doing WP any favours.

A chance to eliminate their great rivals from the play-off race is a big incentive for Robert du Preez's men, but if WP gain a bonus point they will secure their place in the top four.

The Sharks will use the match as a tribute to wing Odwa Ndungane, who will retire at the end of the season after 12 years at the union.

"Odwa Ndungane epitomises what it means to be a professional rugby player and his dedication, loyalty and contribution to the team remained unwavering," coach Du Preez said.

Ndungane played 135 Super Rugby matches for the Sharks and so far has clocked up 104 Currie Cup caps. He also played nine Tests for the Springboks.

The Blue Bulls are just about still in the Currie Cup race, five points adrift of second place on 27. They meet the Pumas, who have 26 points at Loftus on Friday.