Bismarck du Plessis will inspire the Sharks to a consolation win over a second-string Stormers side in Durban this Saturday, writes JON CARDINELLI.
This game will mark the last for Bismarck, his brother Jannie and Willem Alberts in Sharks colours. The Du Plessis brothers are set to further their careers at Montpellier in France, while Alberts is on his way to Stade Français. All three will be looking to depart the Sharks and Kings Park on a winning note.
It's been a disastrous season on all fronts for the Sharks. After scoring two memorable wins in New Zealand and topping the South African conference in 2014, they have slumped to fourth in the local standings in 2015. Even if they win this Saturday, they will finish the tournament with a success rate of less than 50%.
Discipline has also been a burning issue, and Bismarck himself has been at fault. Du Plessis was not only suspended following his kick on Chiefs No 8 Michael Leitch earlier this year, but relieved of the Sharks captaincy.
The time off afforded Du Plessis an opportunity to address the problems in his game. Since the Springbok hooker has returned, he's played with more control.
The Sharks will be looking to their former captain to lead the physical charge this weekend. They have a point to prove against a Stormers side that has already beaten them once this season.
The Cape outfit won't travel to Durban with their full-strength squad. Captain Duane Vermeulen and flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis are recovering from injuries. The fact that the Stormers have already qualified for the play-offs, and are highly unlikely to earn a home semi-final, has also encouraged coach Allister Coetzee to rest all his first-choice players. Lock Jan de Klerk and scrumhalf Godlen Masimla have been included on the bench, and could make their Vodacom Super Rugby debuts this weekend.
And yet, the Sharks will not be wanting for motivation. We should expect big games from the Du Plessis brothers and Alberts, the ever-imposing blindside flanker. The trio will want to remind Sharks and indeed South African fans everywhere of what they are capable of.
If a few other results go their way this weekend, the Stormers will be in a position to bank home advantage in the semi-finals. If the Waratahs and Brumbies lose their respective clashes, it will be interesting to see how the Stormers respond.
If that transpires, they may regret resting so many first-choice players. The Sharks have battled this season, but you would expect a team stacked with Boks like Du Plessis to punish a second-string Stormers side in Durban.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Sharks 12, Stormers 12
In Durban: Sharks 8, Stormers 5
STATS AND FACTS
– The last five meetings between these sides have seen an average of less than than 19 points scored by each team.
– The last two fixtures between the sides have both been won by 15-plus points, however the previous six before that were all separated by losing bonus-point margins.
– The Stormers have conceded the fewest second-half tries in Super Rugby this season (11).
– The Sharks have the worst tackle success this season (83%), having missed more tackles per game than any other team (24).
– Demetri Catrakilis (89%) has the best kick success of any player to attempt at least 10 shots at goal this season (57 from 64).
– The Sharks’ Marco Wentzel has won the most lineouts this year (64).
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
Pat Lambie (93)
|Marcell Coetzee (5)||Lwazi Mvovo (717)||Marcell Coetzee (142)|
|Stormers||Demetri Catrakilis (156)||Dillyn Leyds (6)||Cheslin Kolbe (1,057)||Nizaam Carr (115)|
Sharks – 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 S’bura Sithole, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Khaya Majola, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Heimar Williams.
Stormers – 15 Robert du Preez, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr (c), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Oli Kebble.
Subs: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Seabelo Senatla, 23 Kobus van Wyk.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Archie Sehlako (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix