Cheetahs aim to break Sharks stranglehold

The Cheetahs will be out to break the stranglehold the Sharks have on them in Super Rugby when they host the Durban-based side in their local derby in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The hosts have struggled to overcome the Sharks outfit over the last couple of seasons, bagging their last victory in February 2010 in Durban.

Cheetahs hooker and captain Adriaan Strauss said his side needed to guard against giving the Sharks turnover ball.

“One thing we’ve certainly worked on this week was not giving the Sharks any turnovers,” said Strauss who has been tipped in some circles for the Springbok captaincy.

“They’re very dangerous when they get possession there and have good playmakers like Marcell Coetzee and Keegan Daniel who love to attack from around the breakdown.

“We will want to keep our possession as much as possible. That will be key.”

Both teams have been inconsistent this season and will look to build on their respective victories last weekend.

Sharks coach John Plumtree said he expected a battle of attrition in the derby clash.

“The effort from both teams goes up a few levels, there’s no doubt about that,” Plumtree said.

Plumtree said his side was buoyed by the return of a number of experienced campaigners.

“Our side looks fit, the guys coming back from injury are fit and that will help, especially when playing at altitude,” he said.

“But a big part of the challenge is also mental. We need to be in a good space mentally and physically and go up there believing in ourselves.”

Cheetahs flanker Heinrich Brussow’s match-up with the Sharks’ Marcell Coetzee should be a mouth-watering battle.

Coetzee has been touted for a Springbok call-up and will get his opportunity to prove his mettle against one of the best flankers in world rugby.

Plumtree named a star-studded bench with Springbok loose forwards Willem Alberts, Jean Deysel and Ryan Kankowski sure to make an impact at a later stage in the match.

Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie and his Cheetahs counterpart Riaan Smit could hold the key to success in the match.

Lambie was doubtful for the Cheetahs clash after he left the field with a knock to the head against the Force last week, but has been included at flyhalf to bolster the coastal side.

He will also be looking for a stellar performance to convince Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer he is ready as back-up for incumbent Bok pivot Morné Steyn.

Smit replaced struggling Sias Ebersohn in the second half of last week’s match against the Stormers and delivered a stellar performance which saw him being promoted to the starting XV.

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