Home of the Sharks

So, the first round of Super Rugby is behind us, and of course I was thrilled with the Shark’s five pointer start to the season. The Kings had me a little worried with that early try, but it was pretty much one way traffic after that, and I was very pleased that my SuperBru prediction of a Shark’s victory by 18 points proved to be too conservative, with 43-8 being the final score.

To be fair, the Kings are not exactly the most fearsome opponents, and the Sharks outclassed them on attack, with tries from Jean-Luc du Preez and Willie le Roux (both on debut for the Sharks), as well as from Paul Jordaan and my all-time fave Lwazi Mvovo, and a brace from Odwa Ndungane, and on defence. But they’ll need to do more against the Jaguares this weekend.

With the Jaguares team essentially being Argentina’s national side, they can certainly be expected to bring more to the game than the Kings did. They got off to a bit of a slow start last weekend against the Cheetahs, but rebounded impressively to overcome a significant deficit and ultimately win the match. I don’t think they’ll be able to do the same against the Sharks, but the Durbanites will definitely need to be prepared for a very physical game. Hopefully there won’t be any serious injuries to add to the already unfortunate list of unavailable players, with Lwazi Mvovo being the latest to fall prey to an ankle injury. He is capably replaced by stalwart JP Pietersen and Stephan Lewies also returns to the team after a lengthy break due to injury, replacing Hyron Andrews at lock.

With just these two changes to a team that performed beyond expectations last weekend, I think that while we may be in for a tougher battle this weekend, the Sharks will still win their first home game of the season comfortably. Fans attending the match are also in for a special experience, as the Sharks have chosen the occasion to highlight the need for national unity, in the wake of recent clashes that disrupted Varsity Cup rugby. According to the Sharks website, on ‘Say No to Racism’ day at Growthpoint Kings Park, sponsors Kyocera will distribute no fewer than 10,000 national flag masks to spectators as they arrive at the stadium and the pre-match entertainment will be provided by Jack Parrow and Lvovo courtesy of title sponsor Cell C, all in an effort to highlight the need for unity.

The Sharks team to face the Jaguares on Saturday is:

15. Willie Le Roux, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Joe Pietersen, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Daniel du Preez, 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Tendai Mtawarira (Captain)

Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Juan Schoeman, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Hyron Andrews, 20. Philip van der Walt, 21. Michael Claassens, 22. Garth April, 23. S’bura Sithole

My SuperBru picks for round two are (all times shown are SA time):

Crusaders v Blues (4 Mar 08:35) Crusaders by 6

Brumbies v Waratahs (4 Mar 10:40) Brumbies by 3

Chiefs v Lions (5 Mar 06:15) Chiefs by 10

Highlanders v Hurricanes (5 Mar 08:35) Highlanders by 3

Reds v Force (5 Mar 10:40) Reds by 2

Bulls v Rebels (5 Mar 15:00) Bulls by 5

Cheetahs v Stormers (5 Mar 17:05) Stormers by 7

Sharks v Jaguares (5 Mar 19:10) Sharks by 12