• ‘Sharks can beat anybody’

    Jake White believes the Sharks can win in Christchurch for the second time this season.

    The Sharks beat the Highlanders 31-27 at Kings Park on Saturday to set up a semi-final showdown with the Crusaders. While the long plane trip will count against White's side, he believes they can win in Christchurch on Saturday, having done so earlier in the season when they played most of the match with 14 men.

    'It's an 80-minute run and if we play well we can win, and I have to believe that,' said White. 'The Highlanders flew in from the other side of the world and came within four points of beating us. They came sixth on the log and we came third.

    'I am big on the fact that this group of players can beat anybody in the competition, and we have beaten both the Waratahs and Crusaders. The Highlanders knew they could beat us because they came here a couple of months ago and they won.'

    The Sharks had a successful overseas tour in May, beating the Rebels (22-16), Crusaders (30-25) and Blues (29-23). White believes they can embrace the situation again in the play-offs.

    'We have some great memories and a couple of months ago we did well and had a great time. It has never been done that a team has to fly there and win a semi-final, so we might as well enjoy the 36 hours and have fun this week.'  

    White said he was pleased with the Sharks' final quarter against the Highlanders, which coincided with the introduction of Pat Lambie, who had not played since March, off the bench.

    'I thought the last 20 minutes we played really well. It was some of our best rugby in terms of linking our forwards and backs. Charl [McLeod] and Pat are senior players who have been there and understand the pressures. Frans [Steyn] himself said to me after the game, when they walked on, he just got a sense of calmness from both of them being around.'

    Lambie should start at flyhalf against the Crusaders with Steyn shifting to inside centre. Anton Bresler has been ruled out with a rib injury, but fellow lock Stephan Lewies, who was a late withdrawal on Saturday due to a knee complaint, is likely to be fit. Tendai Mtawarira is still doubtful with a bulging disc, but 19-year-old Thomas du Toit has done well in his absence.

    Photo: Marty Melville/AFP Photo

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    Simon Borchardt