The physicality as well as the footwork of the respective No 13s will influence the outcome of the gainline battle at Kings Park, writes JON CARDINELLI.
Should JP Pietersen be starting this Saturday? The Springbok utility back clashed heads with Stormers hardman Duane Vermeulen at Newlands last week. There were fears that Pietersen was concussed, and that he would miss the qualifying play-off against the Highlanders.
Pietersen has been cleared to play this week, but one wonders if that blow will have any effect on his appetite for contact. The Sharks need Pietersen to be at his physical best if they are going to make inroads into the Highlanders defence. They also need Pietersen using all of his experience, not to mention his powerful frame, to repel the likes of Malakai Fekitoa when the Highlanders are in possession.
Fekitoa has been one of the standout performers in Vodacom Super Rugby this season, and has already been rewarded with an All Blacks call-up. The 99kg centre has the power to breach even the best defences, while his speed and vision have proved his game breaking assets when the Highlanders have counter-attacked.
Much will depend on the performance of the respective packs. If the Sharks manage to overpower the Highlanders at the set pieces, and stifle the visitors at the breakdown, it will ensure that Fekitoa's attacking threat is blunted.
Photos: Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix/Rob Jeffries/Getty Images
Green Bok side could struggle
The Springboks’ Rugby Championship squad is light on experience as well as genuine Test options at blindside flank, inside centre and fullback, writes JON CARDINELLI.
Goosen’s top effort in France
Johan Goosen’s performances for Racing 92 this past season are worth shouting about, writes GAVIN MORTIMER.
What we’ve learned
Five lessons from the Rugby Championship and Currie Cup this past weekend, according to CRAIG LEWIS.