The table-topping Sharks are somewhat apprehensive ahead of their trip to the Highveld and with good reason.
They are going up against a team with the ability to punish any mistakes, especially through the boot of flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff – who has an astonishing 92 percent strike rate with the boot.
Add to that the fact that the Sharks’ only match outside Durban this season resulted in their one loss of the season – a 19-23 defeat to the Bulls. The only question is how much to read into the Lions’ loss at home to a depleted Crusaders outfit last week?
Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White feels it was a one-off mishap for the men from Johannesburg.
“Yes, they’ll be disappointed because they have been going along well, but to lose to the Crusaders is not doom or gloom for anybody,” White said, adding that the Sharks are in for a typical South African derby.
“The Lions’ forward pack has been outstanding,” the Sharks boss said.
“I think Johan Ackermann has done a fantastic job. Their front row was supposedly young players who’ve come along and staked a claim. That’s just three players in a whole team, but it epitomises everybody in that group – no-namers who have really stuck their hands up and played above themselves.”
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Willie Britz, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 MB Lusaseni, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Alwyn Hollenbach.
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Paul Jordaan, 23 SP Marais.
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Marius Jonker