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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks team to take on the Western Force on Saturday at Growthpoint Kings Park sees a number of changes to the side that defeated the Chiefs at the same venue last weekend.

Due to the suspension of Bismarck du Plessis, Jean Deysel who returns to the side in the absence of Marcell Coetzee who is being rested, will captain the team for this match. The good news is that Mouritz Botha and Beast Mtawarira, both of whom took heavy blows from the Chiefs, have been passed fit to play.  Kyle Cooper taking over at hooker is the only other change amongst the forwards.

Backline changes have been made in the midfield, the resting of Springboks Cobus Reinach and Pat Lambie have necessitated a new halfback pairing for the first time this season, Conrad Hoffmann taking over at scrumhalf and Frans Steyn shifting from centre to flyhalf.  Andre Esterhuizen earns his second start, he will partner JP Pietersen from inside centre.

These 2 teams have met on 8 occasions, but it is the Sharks who hold the upper hand, having won 7 of them, including a 6 match winning streak stretching back to 2007.

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

The hearing date for SANZAR’s appeal against the decision to rescind Frans Steyn’s Red Card has been postponed until next week.

The Sharks centre was sent off after performing a tip-tackle on Chiefs flyhalf Aaron Cruden in their Super Rugby clash in Durban last Saturday.

Steyn was cited following the game, but was then found not guilty at a subsequent hearing, with the Red Card expunged from his record.

However, SANZAR felt justice was not served and appealed the decision on Wednesday.

The initial date for the appeal was set for Friday, but has now been extended until next Tuesday.

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

SANZAR has lodged an appeal against the outcome of a judicial hearing held on Monday 23 March that found Francois Steyn of the Sharks not guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (j).

A SANZAR Appeals Committee, chaired by Terry Willis, with Nigel Hampton QC and Robert Stelzner SC as members, will hear the appeal via videoconference on Friday 27 March 2015 at 08:00 SA Time (17:00 AEDT, 19:00 NZ Time).

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Cobus Reinach

Cobus Reinach

Marcell Coetzee

Marcell Coetzee

Patrick Lambie

Patrick Lambie

The Springbok trio of Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee and Patrick Lambie are all expected to be rested for the Cell C Sharks’ showdown with the Western Force, in line with the agreement with SA Rugby over player management.

The 3 have earned the break after influential performances during the competition, and the good news that Frans Steyn was cleared to play means he may well take over the flyhalf position from Lambie, although the coaches may not want to break up his midfield partnership with JP Pietersen.

If the pair remain at No 12 and No 13 respectively, either Fred Zeilinga or Lionel Cronje will step into the number No 10 jersey, after solid performances for the Sharks XV in their Vodacom Cup clash on Saturday.

“It’s a huge boost that we will have Frans available, it provides massive stability to the team, especially due to the changes we will have with the resting of the Springboks,” said assistant coach Paul Anthony.

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Liam Messam

Liam Messam

Chiefs captain Liam Messam’s citing has been upheld after the charge was amended to an act contrary to good sportsmanship.

However, there has been no sanction placed on the All Black flank.

Messam was cited, along with teammate Hika Elliot, Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis and centre Frans Steyn, after a spiteful game in Durban last weekend.

The Chiefs captain was cited after the match for tackling and gripping Sharks flank Renaldo Bothma around the neck in a ruck – the incident went unnoticed by the match officials on the day.

A SANZAR judicial hearing has found Messam guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (m) Acts contrary to good sportsmanship.

No sanction has been imposed on the player.

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

Frans Steyn has been found not guilty by a SANZAR judicial hearing on Monday.

This follows after the Springbok midfielder was Red-Carded for an alleged spear tackle in the Sharks’ 12 / 11 Super Rugby win over the Chiefs at the weekend.

Frans Steyn has been found not guilty of disobeying Law 10.4 (j) Lifting Tackling, during a SANZAR Judicial hearing, after he was carded with a Red in a Super Rugby match against the Chiefs at the weekend.

The tip tackle, which was double teamed with Cobus Reinach, took place after 28 minutes had passed between the Sharks and the Chiefs at Kings Park, Durban, on 21 March.

It was a controversial moment, after TMO Marius Jonker recommended a Yellow Card to referee Angus Gardner after reviewing the incident. The on-field officials also had the benefit of watching the dangerous tackle on the big screen. Nevertheless, it was a Red Card.

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Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

The Cell C Sharks issued a Media Release today, regarding Bismarck du Plessis 4 week suspension for kicking an opponent in the face on Saturday, in the ill-tempered game between the Cell C Sharks and the Chiefs, in Durban.

It reads as follows:

Bismarck du Plessis today appeared in a SANZAR judicial hearing, following him being issued with a red card for foul play in the 18th minute of yesterday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Chiefs at Growthpoint KINGS PARK.

Upon pleading guilty to the charge, SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden, handed du Plessis a four-week suspension.

In acceptance of the punishment handed to him by SANZAR, Bismarck du Plessis said: “I want to unreservedly apologise for my behaviour both as captain and a senior player. My actions were unacceptable and I fully accept the punishment handed down to me by SANZAR.

“I will use these four-weeks off the field to reflect on my actions as both a leader and role-model in the game. I am painfully aware that people have lost faith in my character and the values I claim to stand for. I intend to rectify that through actions going forward and not merely words.”

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Super RugbyThe Emirates Lions won their 2nd tour match as the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks had to dig deep to win at home in an interesting 6th Round of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The men from Johannesburg weathered an early storm and clinched their 3rd successive win over the Melbourne Rebels, by 20 / 16, courtesy of a late try by Lionel Mapoe on Friday in Melbourne. With this victory, the Emirates Lions emulated their feats in 2007 and 2011, when they also won 2 tour matches.

On Saturday, the Toyota Cheetahs started well and were in front at the break against the Crusaders in Christchurch, but the home team took proper advantage of 2 second-half Yellow Cards against the visitors from Bloemfontein to win comfortably by 57 / 14.

2 Matches were played in South Africa on Saturday afternoon, both in less-than-perfect conditions.

First up, the Vodacom Bulls had to rely on a late penalty goal by Handré Pollard to pip the Force by 25 / 24 in Pretoria before the Cell C Sharks, playing for more than 50 minutes with 13 men against 14, following 3 Red Cards, had to dig deep to beat the Chiefs by 12 / 11 in Durban.

The DHL Stormers had a BYE.

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The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden has accepted a guilty plea from Bismarck du Plessis of the Sharks for contravening Law 10.4 (c) A player must not kick an opponent, after he was sent off following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Du Plessis has been suspended from all forms of the game for 4 weeks up to and including 18 April 2015.

The incident occurred in the 18th minute of the match between the Sharks and Chiefs played at Kings Park in Durban.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden assessed the case.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

After 5 games in a row for the Cell C Sharks’ Springboks, questions are being asked about the SARU player rest initiative and when the Durban-based team will buy in.

Gary Gold however has said the Sharks are in a different position to other teams in South Africa and as such have an alternative to it .

The Sharks have a core group of Springboks that play an integral part to both the union and the national team.

Players such as Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee and Pat Lambie to name a few.

However, with Super Rugby now reaching Round 6, and a large percentage of those Springboks being named to play their 6 game in a row against the Chiefs this Saturday, questions are being asked of the Sharks management.

Coach Gold explained his selection, and subsequent breaking of the SARU initiative, by stating the Sharks are facing a challenging schedule with regards to BYE-weeks.

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Cell C SharksThe Sharks have made only 1 enforced change to their starting line-up that will face the Chiefs on Saturday, as Marco Wentzel comes into the second-row.

Wentzel replaces the injured Pieter-Steph du Toit in an otherwise unchanged 15, with Daniel du Preez and Waylon Murray named on the replacements bench.

“The Chiefs are a championship outfit with outstanding strength and depth and they will go into this match as favourites. They have a strong pack of forwards and one of the most exciting backlines in the competition and are well coached,” said head coach Gary Gold, whose side are looking to back up last weekend’s victory.

“We look forward to the challenge of measuring ourselves against one of the most dangerous sides. It’s going to be an exciting match-up.”

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Pieter-Steph du Toit

Pieter-Steph du Toit

After emerging from surgery on Tuesday, Pieter-Steph du Toit has suggested that his knee injury may not be season-ending.

It was previously feared that the 22-year-old Sharks flanker would miss the remainder of the Super Rugby season and South Africa’s Rugby World Cup campaign, however the initial prognosis is positive.

“A miracle just happened,” tweeted Du Toit.

“Just got home after surgery, everything went well. Doc said I will be able to play in three months if rehab goes well.”

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams’ delayed concussion symptoms are giving Chiefs coach Dave Rennie headaches of his own.

Rennie said he will wait until Friday, to give his star centre a shot at playing against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

The All Black superstar suffered a head-clash with Stormers prop Vincent Koch last weekend in Cape Town, forcing him to leave the field for a concussion test.

Williams returned to the playing field to complete most of the game, but has been suffering from headaches and showing symptoms of concussion.

For the Chiefs coach, Rennie, there is now a nervous wait to see if Williams can complete the mandatory protocols – in order to be declared fit to face the Sharks in this Super Rugby Round 6 crunch clash.

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Pieter-Steph du Toit

Pieter-Steph du Toit

Cell C Sharks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury sustained in his side’s win over the Toyota Cheetahs on Saturday.

Du Toit’s injury is a huge blow to the Sharks and the Springboks as it means he is almost certainly ruled out of the World Cup in England later this year.

Du Toit left the field during the first half after he twisted his knee during a tackle. The 22-year-old tore his anterior cruciate ligament on the same knee where a similary injury kept him on the sidelines for most of the 2014 season.

He hopped on a plane to Cape Town to see a surgeon while there were mixed emotions among his team-mates, who headed to Durban after their 29-10 victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

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CheetahsCell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks picked up their second victory of the Super Rugby campaign as they saw off the Toyota Cheetahs 27 / 10 in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

An improved performance was always on the cards following the defeat the men from Durban suffered against Stormers in their previous outing and the revival particularly at scrum-time will be encouraging for both the Super Rugby team and the Springbok coaching set-up.

The experience Tendai Mtawarira and brothers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis brought to the game was crucial on the day, but the real winner for the Sharks was their defence against a Cheetahs outfit that was predictably full of running.

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Jannie du PlessisJannie du Plessis may not have been involved in the weekend’s scrumming massacre at the hands of the Stormers, but he has examined the evidence and given his diagnosis on what went wrong.

The Sharks efforts against the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday steadily disintegrated as the game went on.

Their set piece meltdown culminated in three tightheads over a period of 15 minutes.

Du Plessis might not have had a front-row seat on Saturday’s proceeding, but he did manage to get his hands on a video which he scrutinized at length.

“I was certainly not expecting it (conceding three tightheads in 15 minutes),” the Springbok tighthead said.

“We had prepared really well, but there are a few technical things that went wrong.

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Sam Cane

Sam Cane

The Chiefs may have felt they deserved to win against the Highlanders after dominating play, but that is behind them as they now focus on their tour to South Africa.

The Chiefs next match is away in Cape Town against the undefeated DHL Stormers on 14 March, they then travel up the coast to Durban to take on the Cell C Sharks in what is sure to be a tough tour.

The South Africa opposition does not end there as their 1st fixture back home is to the traveling Cheetahs.

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DHL Stormers vs Cell C Sharks

The DHL Stormers remained unbeaten and still Top of the South African Conference, by defeating the Sharks 34 / 13 in a feisty derby.

A super solo score by Johnny Kotze and a Penalty Try against Springbok scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, wrapped up a deserved win for the Stormers, their 4th of the season.

It’s early days but the Stormers now look like South Africa’s best hope of a Super Rugby title in 2015, based on their start to the year and the questionable form of their rivals.

When it mattered, their growing composure shone through in Cape Town, undaunted by the larger number of Springboks in the Sharks’ ranks.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

After enduring a disappointing start to the season, Sharks coach Gary Gold has called on his side to ‘man-up’ and pull together.

Much is expected of a squad loaded with Springboks, but they have yet to realise their potential this season, with just 1 win from their first 4 games.

Gold said that the key to turning things around will be to remain united and take a hard look at which areas of their game are letting them down.

“This is certainly not the start we wanted in Super Rugby but it is important now to man-up and carry on with the fight.

“It is a long competition and we have got some work to do, no question of a doubt.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks can count on 3 Springboks who return to the side to take on the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday evening in what is shaping up to be a massive South African Conference derby.

JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn have returned from Japan and no time has been wasted introducing them to the starting line-up, while Willem Alberts has been given the all-clear to play after spending time rehabbing an injury.

JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn have also proven themselves at training and they form a new centre partnership.

Ryan Kankowski will join the elite group of Vodacom Super Rugby centurions when he plays in his 100th game for the Cell C Sharks, in a loose-forward bolstered by the return of Albert, especially in light of the kind of talent that lurks at the back of the Stormers scrum in the shape of SA Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, Duane Vermeulen.

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Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

The Cell C Sharks third round Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld proved to be a very physical encounter that was contested passionately by the respective teams on the day.

During the match there was an off the ball incident that took place involving Bismarck du Plessis and Victor Matfield. On reflection after the match, Bismarck realised that he acted inappropriately with his choice of language used and would like to apologise for his behaviour.

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Willem Alberts

Willem Alberts

JP Pietersen

JP Pietersen

Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

 

The Cell C Sharks have been boosted by the return of Springboks Frans Steyn and JP Pietersen from Japan, as well as flank Willem Alberts from a hamstring injury.

Both Japanese-based backs were spotted training with the Sharks on Monday after their respective teams were eliminated from the league in Japan.

Meanwhile, barn-storming loose forward Alberts has been training with the squad for sometime now and is finally in contention for selection as the Sharks prepare to travel to Cape Town to take on the undefeated Stormers.

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Super RugbyThe Toyota Cheetahs, Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers were victorious in 3 terrific Vodacom Super Rugby matches, as the competition really took off in the 3rd Round.

On Friday evening, the Toyota Cheetahs sneaked home against the Blues in Bloemfontein, winning their 2nd match of the season by 25 / 24 to remain 1 of only 4 unbeaten teams in 2015.

Saturday saw 2 local derbies of the highest calibre, with Test-like intensity. Mirrroing the encounter in Bloemfontein, the results of both these matches were in the balance right until the end.

The Vodacom Bulls prodcued their maiden win of the season when they beat the Cell C Sharks by 43 / 35 in a superb match in Pretoria. Then the DHL Stormers clocked their 3rd win from 3 matches when they beat the Emirates Lions by 22 / 19 in Johannesburg.

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