The Sharks will alleviate the pressure on rookie flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain and strengthen their chances of a rare win in Wellington if they deliver an improved performance at the scrum and breakdown, writes JON CARDINELLI.
Last week, Curwin Bosch produced an accurate tactical- and goal-kicking performance to help his side claim an emphatic win over the Highlanders in Dunedin. The Sharks finished the round in a good space and there was every reason to believe another victory in New Zealand – against the Hurricanes – was in the offing.
On Thursday, however, it was confirmed that Bosch has been ruled out of the clash in Wellington on Saturday. The 22-year-old has returned to South Africa following a family bereavement.
Boeta Chamberlain, the 20-year-old who made his Currie Cup debut for the Sharks last August, will start in the all-important No 10 position. The rookie is highly rated and has already shown some promise in the early stages of the season. Whether Chamberlain can run the Sharks game plan and offset the loss of one of the best goal-kickers in the competition, however, remain to be seen.
Chamberlain will have the benefit of playing alongside two experienced heads in Louis Schreuder and Andre Esterhuizen. The input of the seasoned scrumhalf and centre, not to mention that of World Cup winners like Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi, may help as far as game management is concerned.
The immediate focus, though, should be the Sharks pack. There were some rousing moments in Dunedin last week, with James Venter winning some key battles at the breakdown and Hyron Andrews getting up at the lineout to win the ball against the throw. That said, the Sharks weren’t consistent at the rucks and the misfiring scrum put the rest of the side under pressure.
The Hurricanes were handed a physical lesson by a more robust and accurate Stormers pack in round one. According to the stats, however, their scrum has been the most accurate over the past two rounds – winning 16 out of 16 on their own feed. The hosts may go after the Sharks in this area on Saturday given that the Durban-based outfit has achieved the second-lowest scrum success rate to date (75%).
Ox Nche and Thomas du Toit may feel that they have a point to prove after conceding a few scrum penalties in recent weeks. Failure to meet the scrum challenge of the Hurricanes could have dire consequences for the visitors. If the Hurricanes pack wins the battles at the scrum and breakdown, the hosts will lay the platform for hulking backs like Ngani Laumape and Ben Lam to strike at Chamberlain’s channel.
Will Sharks coach Sean Everitt change much in terms of the game plan for a meeting with the Hurricanes? With Bosch returning to South Africa, Everitt has been forced to make a change at flyhalf, but there may not be sufficient time to alter the team’s tactics.
The selection of six forwards on the bench suggests that the Sharks are expecting an almighty battle up front. The inclusion of two loose forwards in that bench contingent may lift the South Africans’ breakdown effort at the business end of the contest.
Hurricanes – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Gareth Evans, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Subs: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Liam Mitchell, 20 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Billy Proctor.
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Lukhanyo Am (c), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Dylan Richardson, 21 Phendulani Buthelezi, 22 Sanele Nohamba, 23 Jeremy Ward.
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Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets