Sharks have spring in their swim and keep same team for the Bulls
The newly-found spring in the Sharks' step is abundantly clear with coach Robert du Preez keeping the same starting 15 for their clash against the Bulls on Saturday.
The only changes from their 38-37 defeat against the Hurricanes in Napier are on the bench with Akker van der Merwe and Dan du Preez replacing Franco Marais and Hyron Andrews at hooker and lock/flank respectively.
Du Preez has had the luxury of picking the same team for three consecutive weeks‚ lending a stability that's seen the Sharks rapidly improve after their disastrous Australian leg of their tour.
Du Preez is also aware of how the Bulls have moulded their game and this is something the Sharks have prepared for after bruising encounters against the Hurricanes and the Blues.
Du Preez also noted how South African Super Rugby derbies often subscribe to a different hymn-sheet from a tactical perspective.
“We've had some rotational changes and small little changes in the first couple of games. We wanted to give everyone an opportunity but we've rewarded the guys who have done well for us‚” Du Preez said.
“You want to score tries in this tournament and that's a big objective for us but the winning of games is more important. If we have to fight it out in the trenches‚ then that's what we're going to do.”
It would be folly of the Bulls to take the Sharks lightly‚ especially in the light of the progress Du Preez has embarked on after deflating defeats to the Brumbies and the Melborne Rebels.
The Bulls‚ though‚ are a formidable side even if they're short on consistency.
That the Bulls being a side that also hasn't travelled very well in recent years should work in favour of the Sharks but the hosts have also been patchy on their own turf.
Du Preez said the responsibility they collectively took after their Australian shockers holds them in good stead for their home run.
“In order to fix what went wrong‚ it needed to start with me. I had to take that responsibility and that's what it is‚” Du Preez said.
“As a coaching and management team‚ we took a hard look at ourselves before we pointed fingers at the players and we decided as a big family to sort this thing out.
“I don't think the effort was there in the first match against the Brumbies although we had a great training week. That wasn't our best effort and the game against the Rebels‚ the effort was there but the execution wasn't great.
“The Blues game brought out the effort and the accuracy.
"This is a talented team and we have to keep on improving in all aspects. In this tournament‚ if you're off your game‚ you'll get punished and lose games with big margins.”
15 Curwin Bosch‚ 14 Sbu Nkosi‚ 13 Lukhanyo Am‚ 12 André Esterhuizen‚ 11 Lwazi Mvovo‚ 10 Robert du Preez‚ 9 Louis Schreuder‚ 8 Tera Mtembu‚ 7 Jean-Luc du Preez‚ 6 Philip van der Walt‚ 5 Stephan Lewies‚ 4 Ruan Botha (c)‚ 3 Thomas du Toit‚ 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle‚ 1 Beast Mtawarira
16 Akker van der Merwe‚ 17 Juan Schoeman‚ 18 John-Hubert Meyer‚ 19 Tyler Paul‚ 20 Dan du Preez‚ 21 Cameron Wright‚ 22 Marius Louw‚ 23 Kobus van Wyk