The weight of expectation on the Sharks ahead of Chiefs date
With the kind of form the Sharks have exhibited against their New Zealand brethren‚ the weight of expectation grows with each meeting.
The Sharks' date with the severely weakened Chiefs side at Kings Park on Saturday may be their last New Zealand fixture of the round-robin stage but the Durban side have sent a series of strong statements against the Kiwi teams.
They took the Highlanders and the Blues apart while the Hurricanes had to drag the game deep to secure a one point win.
While the Sharks have collected wins against the Stormers and the Sunwolves‚ these performances have been lacking in other fixtures.
Sharks coach Robert du Preez didn't worry himself about the relative greenness of the Chiefs side they will be facing.
However‚ they have a set of errors they need to get right before the South African sides go on their break a week earlier than the other teams.
“We've spoken about that and we know that whatever team they are going to field is going to be a good one.
"They're a New Zealand team and we respect them‚” Du Preez
“We've had a very good week of training and we've got two games left before some of the boys have a break.
"There's a great spirit and energy in the team. I don't think it's necessarily the New Zealand teams but there is a good vibe and the boys are really keen on rectifying last week's performance.”
Du Preez made three changes to the side that lost to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
Philip van der Walt replaces Jacques Vermeulen at flank while Lwazi Mvovo and Louis Schreuder come in for Makazole Mapimpi and Cameron Wright respectively.
The Chiefs will be captained by the injury-prone utility back Charlie Ngatai‚ who has moved from fullback to outside centre to accommodate Scott Stevenson in one of four changes made from the side that out-smarted and outmuscled the Stormers at Newlands.
Du Preez said they needed to avoid the disciplinary issues that plagued their Pretoria defeat but gave referee Mike Fraser the benefit of the doubt.
The Stormers had lodged a complaint with Sanzaar in regards with Fraser's performance on Saturday.
Fraser will be in charge of proceedings in Durban and will be assisted by Marius van der Westhuizen and Archie Sehlako.
“Discipline is always top of our focus point and it will be the same this weekend. We only conceded five penalties but we conceded two yellow cards and those count for additional penalties.
"I spoke about that before the Bulls game and maybe I shouldn't be speaking about that‚” Du Preez said.
“We've spoken to Mike Fraser and we've sent him the clips of what we want him to look at.
"I looked at the scrums and I'm not too sure where the complaints came from because I didn't see any issues with how he officiated the scrums. Referees do make mistakes and that's part of the game but we have no complaints.
"He must just do his job.”
15 Curwin Bosch‚ 14 Sbu Nkosi‚ 13 Lukhanyo Am‚ 12 André Esterhuizen‚ 11 Lwazi Mvovo‚ 10 Rob du Preez‚ 9 Louis Schreuder‚ 8 Dan du Preez‚ 7 Jean-Luc du Preez‚ 6 Philip van der Walt‚ 5 Ruan Botha (c)‚ 4 Tyler Paul‚ 3 Thomas du Toit‚ 2 Akker van der Merwe‚ 1 Beast Mtawarira.
16 Chiliboy Ralepelle‚ 17 Juan Schoeman‚ 18 Ross Geldenhuys‚ 19 Stephan Lewies‚ 20 Jacques Vermeulen‚ 21 Cameron Wright‚ 22 Marius Louw‚ 23 Makazole Mapimpi.
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.
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.