Sharks expecting Cheetahs Currie Cup backlash

Having thrown away a comfortable lead against the Blue Bulls last week, Sharks coach John Plumtree expects the Cheetahs to hit back in their Currie Cup clash in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Holding a 22-12 lead with 20 minutes left, the Cheetahs crumbled in the last quarter as the Bulls fought back to snatch a 22-22 draw.

Lying in fourth place, some 12 points behind log leaders the Lions ahead of the 10th round of matches, Plumtree said the Cheetahs would pose a stiff challenge.

“You want to win your home games and they’ll be pretty disappointed they dropped a couple of points there,” Plumtree said.

“So this week you can expect them to be pretty desperate, and it’s tough enough beating them when they’re not desperate.

“The boys know this is a real big challenge for them and I think our character is going to be tested more than anything this weekend.”

The Sharks also had a scare last week. Trailing the Pumas at the break in Durban, they clawed their way back to clinch a hard-fought 33-20 victory.

The defending champions will hope to prove themselves, after struggling against the traditional minnows this season, and lift themselves from third in the table.

Elsewhere on Saturday, the Blue Bulls, flailing in sixth position, will look to resurrect their season against Western Province in Pretoria.

Province coach Allister Coetzee, however, was confident his young squad could keep their momentum after bagging four successive victories.

“We’ve prepared well and are looking forward to it, even though we’ve had a challenging year when it comes to injuries,” Coetzee said.

“Fortunately, whenever we’ve roped in youngsters, they have not let themselves or the team down.”

Griquas, in fifth place on the log, will be out to close the gap on the top four when they face the Pumas, the only team without a win, in Kimberley.

Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse insisted they had not given up, despite being almost certain to face a relegation battle.

“I wouldn’t say we’re desperate, rather frustrated,” Stonehouse said.

“It’s been a season of near misses and it doesn’t feel good, but we’re keeping our heads high and will go to Kimberley looking for that elusive first win of the season.”

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