Sharks v Highlanders preview

ABSA Stadium, Durban, 20.30 (18.30 GMT)


The Highlanders have slowly waned as a force in Super rugby, and with absolutely vital players like Nick Evans, Carl Hayman and Anton Oliver all unavailable, the Sharks will walk this.


The Highlanders will put up a brave fight with Jimmy Cowan, Josh Blackie and James Ryan all doing their best to keep their side in contention.


Eventually the Sharks, who will be using this game to re-ignite their attacking dimension, will take the game to a level and speed at which the visitors will not be able to compete.


Young Sharks talent like Francois Steyn and Ryan Kankowski will prove too much for the workmanlike Highlanders and finally their defence will break.


The Highlanders defence will be their only hope after holding out against the Lions who struggled to pierce their armoury. If they are to have a hope, their defence has to last and Charlie Hore has to kick goals.


Prediction: The Sharks will threaten to open them up, but some kinks in their attack will mean they don’t quite manage to finish the New Zealanders off. The Sharks will win by 10 to 15.


Teams:


Sharks: 15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Waylon Murray, 13 Adrian Jacobs, 12 Bradley Barritt, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Francois Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 AJ Venter (c), 6 Warren Britz, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Kees Lensing, 18 Albert van den Berg, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Bob Skinstad, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Butch James


Highlanders: 15 Craig Clare, 14 Lucky Mulipola, 13 Matthew Saunders, 12 Callum Bruce, 11 Greg Zampach, 10 Charlie Hore, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Craig Newby, 7 Josh Blackie (c), 6 Hoani MacDonald, 5 James Ryan, 4 Kane Thompson, 3 Clarke Dermody, 2 Jason Macdonald, 1 Chris King
Replacements: 16 David Hall, 17 Keith Cameron, 18 Ezra Taylor, 19 Alando Soakai, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Jason Kawau, 22 Willie Rickards


Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Touch judges: Geoff Acton (Australia), JC Fortuin (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

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