Sharks know they must step up in Currie Cup

The Sharks know that they will have to deliver a far better performance against Western Province in their Currie Cup match in Cape Town on Friday, if they are to get back on the winning track.

“We clearly have to lift it up a couple of levels if we want to compete down in Cape Town,” Sharks coach John Plumtree said during the week.

“We know it’s going to be a real big challenge for us, but we certainly know we are capable of winning if we perform at our very best.”

With last week’s 43-22 defeat to Griquas, Plumtree left his returning Springboks on the bench.

This week, however, he has not taken the same risk by naming all his Boks, apart from Adi Jacobs, in the run-on team.

The Sharks also received the late bonus of having eighthman Ryan Kankowski available for the match after he had been released from the Springbok camp.

In contrast, Western Province coach Allister Coetzee made only two changes to his side after last week’s 28-22 loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Meanwhile in Nelspruit, two desperate sides will be looking to get a much needed victory when the Pumas host the Blue Bulls at the Mbombela stadium.

These teams currently occupy the two log positions that will be removed when the new Currie Cup format is introduced in 2012, and a victory will therefore be of paramount importance.

The Bulls would not have forgotten their 22-21 loss at the same venue last year and have subsequently — like the Sharks — strengthened their team with Springboks.

“They are getting good momentum with their forwards and play an open kind of game and I believe they are a never-say-die team,” said Bulls coach Pine Pienaar.

He also highlighted that no team have had an easy win in the lowveld this year.

“The Sharks struggled there and Griquas also did in a sense, it is difficult in Nelspruit,” he said.

Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse made a few positional changes to his side after last week’s loss to the Leopards and will fancy his team’s chances of repeating their upset victory of 2010.

In the third match of the day the Leopards will be proceeding with caution as they take on a Griquas side which are difficult to beat at home.

Last week’s victory over the Sharks may very well have reignited the flame the men from Kimberley have carried with pride in recent seasons.

They would, however, be foolish to underestimate what the effects of a maiden victory has done to confidence levels in the Leopards squad.

“It will be a hard game and entertaining but one we’re looking forward to,” said Leopards coach Leon Boshoff.

“It’s crucial for both teams, with the midway mark looming and we’d like to improve our standing on the log, even though we can’t catch them.”

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