Le Roux to spark Sharks

The Sharks need Willie le Roux to be at his decision-making best when they take on the Jaguares in what should be a free-flowing game in Durban on Saturday, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

After an ill-disciplined and impatient first-half performance in their Super Rugby opener against the Kings last weekend, the Sharks cleaned up their act and produced a compelling display in the second stanza.

Their attacking intent was particularly encouraging, with Le Roux playing an important part in one try – albeit in the first half – while also impressively finishing off a solo effort of his own at the beginning of the second period.

Of course it’s not just a one-man show, but Le Roux definitely looks to have added a different dimension to the Sharks’ attack, and his counter-attacking threat and willingness to join the line – even at first receiver – has brought some much-needed X factor to the Durbanites’ backline play.

His performance was far from perfect against the Kings, but if the dynamic fullback can produce a composed display against a Jaguares side that had their own disciplinary and defensive problems against the Cheetahs, it should go a long way to helping achieve a positive result for the Sharks.

The kicking game of Le Roux, Joe Pietersen and Cobus Reinach will also be of utmost importance against a Jaguares side that certainly won’t be afraid to run the ball themselves. As an aside: the Argentinian side impressively beat 45 defenders in their Super Rugby opener.

It also won’t have escaped the Sharks’ attention that the Jaguares managed to overcome two yellow cards and a 21-point deficit to defeat the Cheetahs.

In particular, the influence of halfback duo Nicolás Sánchez and two-try hero Martin Landajo (ill-discipline aside) cannot be underestimated, and these are two men the Sharks will need to keep under wraps.

It should be a fascinating clash in Durban, with both sides still having plenty to prove. But with home-ground advantage, and perhaps some Le Roux magic, the Sharks should edge it.

– After opening their 2016 campaign with a win, the Sharks will be aiming for a fifth win in a row for the first time since a run of five on the bounce across the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
– The Sharks have won 20 of their last 24 matches when hosting a team from outside South Africa, though none of the last four of those wins has come by more than six points.
– The Jaguares beat 45 defenders in their historic victory in round one, 17 more than any other team (Cheetahs, Waratahs).
– Lwazi Mvovo (four) made more breaks than any other player in the opening round.
– Santagio Cordero beat a competition-best eight defenders on the first weekend of action.
Source: Opta

Team Top point-scorer Top try-scorer Most metres gained Most tackles
Sharks Joe Pietersen (13) Odwa Ndungane (2) Willie le Roux (91) André Esterhuizen (11)
Jaguares Nicolás Sánchez Martin Landajo (2) Santiago Cordero (74) Matias Moroni (11)

Sharks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Beast Mtawarira (c).
Subs: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Garth April, 23 S’bura Sithole.

Jaguares 15 Santiago Cordero, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Santiago González Iglesias, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Rodrigo Báez, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Santiago García Botta.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Felipe Arregui, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Javier Ortega Desio, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Joaquín Paz, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden (South Africca), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

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Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images

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