Anton Bresler

The Sharks travelled to New Zealand without Anton Bresler, who suffered broken ribs against the Highlanders

Jake White believes the Sharks can win in Christchurch for the second time this season.

The Sharks beat the Highlanders 31-27 at Kings Park on Saturday to set up a semi-final showdown with the Crusaders. While the long plane trip will count against White’s side, he believes they can win in Christchurch on Saturday, having done so earlier in the season when they played most of the match with 14 men.

“It’s an 80-minute run and if we play well we can win, and I have to believe that,” said White.

“The Highlanders flew in from the other side of the world and came within four points of beating us. They came sixth on the log and we came third.”

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Charl McLeod and Pat Lambie

Charl McLeod and Pat Lambie celebrating the Currie Cup victory in 2013. Will they be celebrating with the Super Rugby trophy in two weeks time?

The return of Pat Lambie and the arrival of Charl McLeod onto the field in the final 20 minutes of Highlanders game coincided with ‘some of the best rugby’ for the Sharks.

The Sharks late fightback after they twice came from behind in the second half to see off the stubborn Highlanders 31-27 has secured them a semifinal date with the Crusaders.

White was clearly happy with the entire team, but in particular with his reserve halfback pairing.

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Cell C Sharks celebations

Celebrations at Kings Park as Bismarck du Plessis scores for the Cell C Sharks

Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks are still in contention for their first Super Rugby trophy after beating the Highlanders 31 to 27 at Kings Park tonight.

The Sharks must thank their forwards, and in particular their front row for this victory. Their scrum absolutely decimated the Highlander’s scrum and lead to 6 points in penalties and an all important try to man of the match, Bismarck Du Plessis.

The tactics of not kicking to touch almost cost the Sharks the match as the Highlander’s counter attack was devastating and almost won the game for them. It is a dangerous ploy from the Sharks to gift the ball back to the opposition, considering that their next opponents are also a New Zealand side, and that’s not even taking into account that they might also still have to face the Waratahs or Brumbies, who in Israel Folau and Jessie Mogg have devastating counter runners at their disposal as well.

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Cell C SharksHighlandersSharks (13) 31 / 27 (17) Highlanders (Final Score)

The Cell C Sharks and Highlanders did battle in the Play-Off Round of Super Rugby at

Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT, 03:05 Sunday NZ Time, 01:05 Sunday AEST).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.


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Mt Everest

The Sharks have their own Mt. Everest to climb

If one were to ask people who the first person was to climb Mt. Everest, their answers would invariably be Sir Edmund Hillary.

While technically correct, and the reason I say technically is because Hillary was the first to successfully climb to the summit, there were 8 other expeditions before him. The 1922 British Mount Everest expedition was the first mountaineering expedition with the express aim of making the first ascent of Mount Everest.

Between 1922 and 1953 there were 8 expeditions that tried and failed. The term failed is used lightly I might add, climbers succumbed from illnesses ranging from malaria to altitude sickness, and those were the lucky ones. Death was the common reason for the majority of the failures.

Why am I writing about the ascent of Mt. Everest on a rugby site you might ask, well simply put, Jake White and his Sharks are currently standing at the foot of their own Mt. Everest and tomorrow evening when Steve Walsh blows his whistle to signal the kick off between them and the Highlanders, they will take their first steps on a journey that will hopefully end with them planting the South African flag on the summit in three weeks time.

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imageimageThe Cell C Sharks will play in their 14th Vodacom Super Rugby knock-out match when they host the Highlanders in the second Qualifier for 2014 at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon.

The newly-crowned South African Conference champions are one of the most successful teams in the history of the competition when it comes to reaching the playoff rounds, although they are yet to take the trophy back to Durban.

The Sharks are without doubt the most successful team in the history of the competition never to have won the title.

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Jake White

Jake White

Sharks boss Jake White believes Saturday’s play-off encounter with the Highlanders will be much more like Test match than a Super Rugby showcase.

As a result he believes that the experience of his seasoned Springboks will be a key factor in the knock-out stages of the competition.

“The bottom line is there are no bonus points to worry about in a knock-out game, you just have to win, it doesn’t matter how,”White told a media briefing in Durban on Thursday.

“It means you can’t take too many risks.”

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Jake White

Cell C Sharks coach Jake White

Cell C Sharks director of rugby Jake White has admitted that there was a big temptation to start against the Highlanders with Pat Lambie, but in the end decided against it for fear of disrupting what worked for his side against the Stormers last week.

According to the supersport.com website, speaking a few hours after announcing a match day squad that included Lambie on the bench as back-up to starting flyhalf Frans Steyn, White said he was hoping that the Springbok will get a chance to play in the second half of the Vodacom Super Rugby play-off and thus be ready to start a possible semifinal.

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Super RugbyIt is the Play-Off Round of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend! We have only the 2 Play-Off games in this Round, as all teams below Log position 6 has now been dispatched and the Top 2 teams have a nice rest weekend, with both games on Saturday.

This is the final crunch to sort the men from the boys, to sort the teams going forward into the Semi-Finals.

The Waratahs and Crusaders sit comfortably at the Top of the table and the Brumbies, Chiefs, Cell C Sharks and Highlanders compete in this Round.

It is winners take all in these Play-Off games, the losers joing the other 9 Teams who have already been dispatched to also-ran’s.

Bonus points for tries and losses within 7 now does not matter anymore, all that is needed is a win.

Let the games continue….

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Cell C SharksHighlandersA midfield match-up, the scrumhalves, the battle between the pilferers on the deck and an arm-wrestle at scrum-time come under focus as Sport24 pinpoints a quartet of areas that could tilt the balance between the Sharks and Highlanders.

The teams meet in a Super Rugby finals series first-round knockout match at Kings Park on Saturday (17:05) and these are the individual contests Rob Houwing highlights for special attention…

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Cell C SharksIn the second of the Qualifying Round matches, the Cell C Sharks hosts the Highlanders from Otago. The Sharks won the SA Conference and thereby ensured they booked a home qualifier by ending 3rd on the Combined Log. The Highlanders took the last of the wild card positions by ending their season 6th.

The long-awaited return of Springbok Patrick Lambie highlights the Sharks team for their Super Rugby play-off encounter with the Highlanders in Durban on Saturday.

Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach also makes a welcome return ahead of this preliminary qualifier.

However, it is the return of Lambie’s – albeit on the replacement bench – that will hog the headlines.

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Charl McLeod

Charl McLeod believes that the Sharks are on the right track

Sharks scrumhalf Charl McLeod is stoic in his approach to their play-off game against the Highlanders, it is finals rugby and nothing else matters.

The Sharks started the 2014 campaign ruthlessly, dispatching teams in a clinical matter week in and week out. However, recently there has been notable downward-turn in the Sharks performace.

A loss to the Highlanders in Round 11 and two poor performances on the bounce against the Stormers and Cheetahs seem to take the teeth out of the Costal team.

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HighlandersCell C SharksHighlanders coach Jamie Joseph denies his side is lacking energy heading into the play-offs and says it is time to get excited about playing in the finals.

After a poor outing against the Crusaders in their last pool game the Highlanders know they will have to play much better if they are to be competitive in their long-awaited play-off match against the Sharks.

They never fired in Christchurch on Saturday, the 34-8 defeat from the Crusaders ensured they finished sixth in the competition and have to head to Durban to take on the Sharks.

Earlier this season, the Highlanders beat the Sharks 34-18 in Durban. The Sharks are not looking as impressive as they were at the start of the season, when they led the table for a long period of time.

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Patrick Lambie

Pat Lambie receiving attention after tearing his bicep at Loftus

If reports coming out of the Shark’s press conference held today is to be believed, it would seem like the return of Pat Lambie is imminent. According to captain Bismarck Du Plessis, his return against the Highlanders will be a massive lift to their hopes of winning and progressing to the semi finals.

Lambie tore his bicep against the Bulls at Loftus on the 24th of March, and according to early diagnosis it was believed that he might be out for the rest of the Super Rugby season. Lambie has however recovered faster than expected and started traing with the Shark squad a few weeks ago already.

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Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh

Sanzar has announced that South Africa’s Craig Joubert and Steve Walsh from Australia will referee the two Vodacom Super Rugby Qualifiers this weekend.

Joubert will be the man in the middle in Canberra, where the Brumbies host the Chiefs, while Walsh will be in action in Durban in the second Qualifier between the Cell C Sharks and the Highlanders.

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

The final log positions in the South African Super Rugby conference this year show just how crucial physical dominance is to success.

By Michael de Vries

The two derbies to end the regular season summed things up quite well – with the Lions running the Cheetahs ragged to secure their best-ever finish of 12th overall with seven wins, whilst the Sharks ground the Stormers down in a brutal clash at Newlands to finish a full 12 points clear of their nearest local challengers the Bulls.

The Durban side will carry South African hopes alone in the play-offs, and they will do it playing the physically and territorially suffocating style of rugby that has characterised successful teams from this country in recent years.

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Jamie Joseph

Jamie Joseph, coach of the Highlanders

The Highlanders will attempt what no team has had a chance to do before – beat the Sharks in Durban, twice in one season.

They will meet in a preliminary knock-out match at Kings Park on Saturday, after the Sharks finished third on the Super Rugby standings and the men from Dunedin sixth.

The Highlanders beat the Sharks 34-18 in South Africa back in April, during a successful tour of the Republic.

Now they return to the venue where they have recorded only two other victories – 43-7 in 2005 and 23-19 in 2003.

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Jake White

Cell C Sharks coach Jake White

Sharks boss Jake White would like his side to use their performance against the Stormers at Newlands as a template for how to approach the play-offs.

Michael de Vries

Although his side may have fallen one try and 11 points short of their ultimate target on Saturday, White was understandably pleased with the ‘finals rugby’ his side played against a Stormers team that has recently found their best form of the season.

After a deflating defeat to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last week, White called on his best team to get them some momentum before the play-offs and they did just that in a game that had his stamp all over it.

The Stormers had the majority of possession but couldn’t make it count in the face of a committed defensive effort from the Sharks who pounced on some late counter-attacking opportunities to run away with the game in the end.

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imagePicture the scene, Bismarck Du Plessis climbing a sheer cliff, and on reaching the summit watches a helicopter hover overhead. A man leans out and fires a rocket to his right. Inside in a pair of sunglasses, and upon putting them on, a message displays. ” Good morning Mr. Du Plessis, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go to Newlands and beat the Stormers by 35 points and score a minimum of four tries”

Yes I know it’s cheesy, but that’s pretty much the gist of the challenge facing the Sharks this evening. After leading the Combined Log for the majority of the Super Rugby season, they have let their lead slip by having a couple of below average results, first losing at home to the Stormers, and then going down to the Cheetahs last weekend.

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Special EditionSuper RugbyLike every fine season of Super Rugby, all is not revealed until the final weekend of the regular season, and the 2014 campaign, and 19th tournament overall of the Southern Hemisphere’s premier provincial competition, will be no different.

However congratulations must be offered to the Waratahs, who offered one piece of clarity over the weekend with their 44-16 win over the Highlanders.

With that, the Waratahs has for the first time qualified as the top-ranked team after the regular season, and become the ninth franchise in history to finish as ‘minor premiers’.

For coach Michael Cheika and his troops, this will be a significant fact even though he was quick to remind all who would listen that the Super Rugby Finals Series would be another step up for a team that looks the goods.

However, as Cheika correctly pointed out, there will be teams with more experience at this stage of the season and this is a crucial factor for potential champions.

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Francois Steyn - Cell C Sharks

Francois Steyn back at No 10 for the Cell C Sharks

Frans Steyn has moved into the flyhalf position with Paul Jordaan recovering from injury to take his No 12 jersey in a strong Sharks team.

Director of Rugby Jake White has named a strong side for this derby game, opting to start with a formidable side that has been the hallmark of this team throughout the competition.

Of the injured trio of Paul Jordaan, Pat Lambie and Beast Mtawarira all receiving scans this week to confirm or deny a return to rugby, it was only Jordaan who was passed fit.

He has been included alongside JP Pietersen in the midfield. Steyn takes over from Tim Swiel at flyhalf and Fred Zeilinga has been named as back-up off the bench.

Ryan Kankowski is back at No 8 after withdrawing from last week’s game with a groin strain, and White has bolstered the starting line-up with three Boks who played off the bench last week, Willem Alberts, Jannie du Plessis and brother and captain Bismarck du Plessis.

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imageSaturday afternoon will see the final league phase of Super Rugby 2014 come to an end when the Cell C Sharks travel to Newlands in Cape Town to face the DHL Stormers.

At the time of writing the Sharks have not yet released their team, with Jake White still waiting to hear on the fitness of Patrick Lambie and Paul Jordaan. Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira has earlier in the week tweeted that a scan had ruled out the need for an operation, but that he will still be away from the field for another 2-3 weeks due to a neck injury.

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Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis says the Sharks need to play their own game if they are to rediscover their form.

Last weekend the Sharks suffered defeat in Bloemfontein despite a late fight back and they now find themselves on the brink of missing out on a home semi-final. The Springbok front-ranker was open when speaking about the morale in the camp following the loss.

“The feeling is not good,” he said. “We played against the Stormers the week before the international break and we really wanted to capitalise on the hard work we’d done on tour. But we made a few irrational choices on the field, and it came back to bite us. Then we were really keen to turn that around against the Cheetahs, and if you look at the game we really showed some intent, we carried the ball a lot more than they did, and we tried to play with a bit more ingenuity and ball-in-hand. They were just too good on the day, they capitalised on our mistakes and I think we couldn’t build pressure.”

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Tendai 'Beast'Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast’Mtawarira

Patrick Lambie

Patrick Lambie

Paul Jordaan

Paul Jordaan

Cell C Sharks director of rugby Jake White will know later on Tuesday whether he will have the services of the injured trio of Tendai Mtawarira, Patrick Lambie and Paul Jordaan for Saturday’s all important final Vodacom Super Rugby league match against the DHL Stormers at Newlands.

All three players are heading back from injury and are said to now be recovered and rehabilitated, White just has to find out whether they are ready yet to take the field in a big match like the clash with the Stormers is shaping up to be. The status of flyhalf Lambie in particular will be eagerly awaited by not only White but also fans of the Durban franchise, for pivot has been problematic for the Sharks since the Springbok was injured playing against the Bulls in Pretoria in March.

As it is, Lambie has made an excellent recovery, as the initial prognosis was that his torn bicep would keep him out of the rest of the Super Rugby season. However, regardless of whether he is ready for the Newlands clash, it appears he may be ready to play a part in the knock-out games that follow.

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