Sharks & Lions Seek First Win

The Sharks have made four changes to the starting XV, enforced through injury for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Lions in Durban.  Odwa Ndungane (wing), Lubabalo “Giant” Mtyanda (lock) and Dale Chadwick (prop) replace S’bura Sithole, Mouritz Botha and Tendai Mtawarira respectively.  In the fourth change, Bismarck Du Plessis, a late withdrawal last weekend, is back to lead the Durbanites with Kyle Cooper shifting to the bench.

Mtyanda, on loan from the Steval Pumas, will make his Super Rugby debut while two Junior Springboks, Thomas Du Toit and André Esterhuizen, are on the Sharks’ bench as a result of the changes.  The Emirates Lions pack shows two changes – Jacques Van Rooyen comes in at loosehead prop for Schalk Van Der Merwe and Warwick Tecklenburg replaces the injured Jaco Kriel at flank.  Robbie Coetzee (hooker) and Julian Redelinghuys (prop) are over their respective injuries and will start on the bench, next to Ruaan Lerm (loose forward).

Twenty-year-old lock JP Du Preez, who is 2.09m tall, Lerm and centre Harold Vorster are in line for their debuts in Super Rugby should they get game time from the bench.  Travelling around South Africa has not been good for the Lions – they’ve never won in Durban, Cape Town or Pretoria.  The Cell C Sharks are on a five-match winning streak at home against their counterparts from Johannesburg.

The Lions have scored an average of one try per match in these encounters.  Dating back 11 matches to their first encounter in 2006, the Sharks have scored four tries or more on six occasions, but the Lions have done it only once.  Interestingly enough, both these sides made 124 carries last weekend – only the Brumbies (126) made more in Round 1.

Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold said:  ‘Due to injuries we have had to necessitate a few changes to the team.  Apart from those injury enforced changes we have tried to keep the team as consistent as possible, so that players have another opportunity to get the wrongs of the past weekend right.  We are looking forward to a physical battle against a very good Lions team.’  Lions head coach Johan Ackermann said:  ‘We are looking forward to the trip down to the coast as we enjoy the local derbies and believe this to be a crucial encounter for both sides.  Both teams have a lot to play for as we both went down in our first games of the season – both at home – last weekend.  The Sharks will no doubt come out firing but we will just follow our processes and look to capitalise where we did not last week.  We will really need to use our opportunities and limit our mistakes.’

The teams are:

Sharks: SP Marais, Odwa Ndungane, Waylon Murray, Heimar Williams, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Cobus Reinach, Tera Mtembu, Renaldo Bothma, Marcell Coetzee, Pieter-Steph Du Toit, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Jannie Du Plessis, Bismarck Du Plessis (captain), Dale Chadwick.

Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Thomas Du Toit, Matt Stevens, Marco Wentzel, Jean Deysel, Conrad Hoffmann, Fred Zeilinga, André Esterhuizen.

Lions: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Howard Mnisi, Courtnall Skosan, Marnitz Boshoff, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley (captain), Warwick Tecklenburg, Derick Minnie, Franco Mostert, Martin Muller, Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx, Jacques Van Rooyen.

Replacements: Robbie Coetzee, Schalk Van Der Merwe, Julian Redelinghuys, JP Du Preez, Ruaan Lerm, Faf De Klerk, Elton Jantjies, Harold Vorster.