The last of the quarter finals will see the Sharks facing the Brumbies in Australia on Saturday morning.
If this was at the beginning of the season and you look at the team sheets you would have given the Sharks a huge chance to win this one even if it is away from home, but things have not gone the Sharks way again this season.
The season just never got going for the Sharks who was pre-season favourites to take the conference but at the end they sneaked in the playoffs with a last minute try against the Stormers last weekend.
There have been plenty of disruptions off the field as well for the Sharks who underperform throughout the season.
The Brumbies on the other hand had been slowly and silently gone about their business to not just be a major contender for the title but also won the Aussie conference.
They were by far the best Aussie side this year and have also develop in a side that have a great balance within the team.
With a solid pack and Christian Lealiifano who has control this team game throughout the season. He has been the comeback kid for the Brumbies this season and a major reason for their success.
At the back the Brumbies also have the creativity and speed to score tries and although many has criticised them as a team that can only score from lineout drives, they have been scoring some amazing team tries.
With far less so-called Aussie stars in their side they have played as a team this season and as a unit they will have a few teams worried including the Crusaders.
It is simple really for the Sharks, they need to win the small battles on Saturday to beat this Brumbies team. If they fail at their set pieces and on the ground they will loose this one.
The Sharks have been disappointing in the set pieces and it has been a major reason for them not dominating games. In these kind of games the best backline in the world will look ordinary if they do not get quality ball.
With Fassi out the Sharks have Bosch back but he will run out in the number 15 jumper with Robert Du Preez at 10.
This can be a problem for the Sharks not just because they loose Fassi who has been a revelation at 15 this year but also the fact the Sharks have looked much better with Bosch at 10.
Robert du Preez has not have the bets of seasons and never really played the same quality of rugby than last year.
His decision making, specially when under pressure has been poor and with most properly his confidence not very high, his tactical game has also been poor.
No doubt that Du Preez is a quality 10, but Sharks fans will be hoping he can play to his ability this weekend otherwise it may be a long day for the visitors in Canberra.
Some Interesting Facts (OPTA)
- The Brumbies have won three of their last four Super Rugby matches against the Sharks (L1), the last three matches in that span have been decided by seven points or fewer.
- The Sharks have lost their last five away matches in the Super Rugby finals series, the last time they won a finals match outside South Africa was in Australia in 2012 (30-17 v Reds).
- The Brumbies have lost their last two matches at home in the Super Rugby finals series, after winning eight of their previous nine such matches in competition history.
- Ruben van Heerden (Sharks) has the best tackle success rate of any player in Super Rugby 2019 to make 100+ tackles this season (95% – 101/106).
- No player has won more lineouts on their own team’s throw this season than the Brumbies’ Rory Arnold (69) or Sam Carter (64, level with Guido Petti Pagadizaval).
Prediction: There is always a chance in any playoff match but I just can not get pass the inconsistency of the Sharks and with Bosch at 15 they may just not have enough to beat the Brumbies. Brumbies by 12
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Christian Lealiifano (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 James Slipper, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Jahrome Brown, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Tom Wright
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Mzamo Majola
Replacements: 16 Cullen Collopy, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Luke Stringer, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Rhyno Smith