This will be brutal. Not nasty, just very physical, even at this early stage of the season.
Jan de Koning – Rugby365
The defending champion Blue Bulls don’t have a great record against the Sharks, with just two wins in their last 10 encounters. The last time the Bulls were victorious in Durban, was back in 2006.
The Bulls will also be without 12 players on national duty, and without injured Bok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez.
However, the men from KwaZulu-Natal are not expecting a walk in the park.
“We’ve always respected the Bulls, and hopefully vise-versa,” Sharks assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards told rugby365.com.
He admitted his team did not play well in their Round One match against Griquas in Kimberley last week and they will have to make some adjustments this week.
“We need to start playing good rugby and play it for the full 80 minutes,” he said of his team’s below par effort last week.
He admitted that it will be typical of all games against the Bulls.
“The way they [the Bulls] play is well documented,” Reece-Edwards said, adding: “It is always a nice hard, physical contest and there is always lots of aggression.”
The other key aspect is for the Sharks to work out where they are in terms of the competition.
“It is a nice game for them to do it [measure themselves].
“It is not going to get much harder than the Bulls and we need to know where we stand, the players need to know where they stand.”
The hosts have conceded only two home defeats during the last two seasons in the Currie Cup – with Western Province and the Free State Cheetahs, in the semifinal, beating them in Durban.
Sharks flank Jacques Botes will play in his 97th Currie Cup game and Sharks utility back Stefan Terblanche in his 90th Currie Cup game.
John Mametsa has played 130 games for the Blue Bulls since 2002 and has scored 41 Currie Cup tries in his career for the Loftus Versfeld side.
2007: Sharks won 29-10, Durban
2007: Sharks won 26-18, Pretoria
2008: Blue Bulls won 35-14, Pretoria
2008: Sharks won 34-25, Durban
2008: Sharks won 14-9, Durban
2009: Sharks won 19-13, Durban
2009: Sharks won 29-23, Pretoria
rugby365.com Prediction: This is indeed a tough call to make, but will be an entertaining affair that is likely to be a great showcase of South Africa’s premier domestic competition. In games of this nature the clever money is on a home win. We’ll take the easy option and bank on a home victory. The Sharks by less than 10 points.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Stefan Terblanche (Captain), 12 Patrick Lambie, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Steve Meyer, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Patric Cilliers.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Skholiwe Ndlovu, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Monty Dumond, 22 Andries Strauss.
Blue Bulls: 15 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Stephan Dippenaar, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 John Mametsa, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Ruan Snyman, 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 7 Derick Kuhn, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Fudge Mabeta, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha (captain), 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Bees Roux, 18 Berend Botha, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Danie Faasen, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Hayden Groepes.
Referee: Jason Jaftha (SARU)
Assistant referees: Francois Veldsman (Boland), Reuben Rossouw (KZN)
TMO: JC Fortuin (WP)