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Sharks

Cell C SharksA long-range penalty by Fred Zeilinga four minutes from time helped the Sharks snatch a last-ditch 19-16 victory over the Free State Cheetahs in their Currie Cup clash at Kings Park on Saturday night.

The home flyhalf kicked 14 points in total, with the other five coming through a late try by Tonderai Chavhanga.

However, the visitors will rue what might have been after leading the game for most of the evening thanks to a brilliant Clayton Blommetjies’ try and the boot of Willie du Plessis.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks team to take on Free State at Kings Park in their Round 3 Absa Currie Cup clash on Saturday shows some changes to the pack that featured against the Pumas last week.

According to Sharks website Editor, Michael Marnewick, the backline remains completely unchanged, but among the forwards, there have been some changes, both enforced and rotational.

JC Astle has not been passed fit which means Etienne Oosthuizen reverts back to lock, opening the door for Francois Kleinhans who starts on the flank.

Upfront, Matt Steven starts ahead of Lourens Adriaanse and Dale Chadwick plays at loosehead in place of Thomas du Toit.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks had to revert to what they know, as the forwards rumbled them to victory in the second half of their opening home Absa Currie Cup game against the Steval Pumas, but the coaches appear to be taking the glass half full view to their start to the season.

According to reports, with the big battering rams that dictated a forward based approach during the Super Rugby season now either injured, with the Springboks or departed for Japan, the young Sharks coaches who have taken over for the domestic competition have spoken about the need to play to different strengths.

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Currie CupThis past weekend saw Round 2 of the ABSA Currie Cup of 2014.

As usual 4 games were played, with the Cell C Sharks beating Steal Pumas 34 / 17, DHL Western Province demolishing the Vodacom Blue Bulls by 41 / 17, Xerox Goldenlions hammering EP Kings by 60 / 19 and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs beating GWK Griquas 34 / 27.

 

WP demolish Blue Bulls

DHL Western Province scored three tries either side of halftime as they demolished the Vodacom Blue Bulls 41-17 (halftime 19-6) in a scintillating Absa Currie Cup encounter at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Province ran in six tries through Pat Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Nizaam Carr, Juan de Jongh and a brace from Seabelo Senatla while replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi nabbed one for the visitors.

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Patrick Lambie

Patrick Lambie

Cell C Sharks Coach Brad Macleod-Henderson has stuck largely with the same team that defeated Griquas for this Friday night’s ABSA Currie Cup clash against the Pumas at Growthpoint Kings Park.

“We’ve taken a lot of confidence out of our away win last week and we’re very excited about being back home, it’s fantastic to play at Growthpoint Kings Park,” he explains.

The big news is the surprise availability of Pat Lambie who has been released to the Cell C Sharks to get some game time under the belt (much like the case of Eben Etzebeth who represented Western Province last weekend). He will play off the bench with Fred Zeilinga looking to put in the same kind of dominant performance he delivered last week.

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Derick Minnie

“Cheers vir eers!” Derick Minnie op pad vorentoe Saterdag teen die Bloubulle op Ellispark.

Niemand wil dit hard sê nie, maar almal weet dit: Suid-Afrikaanse rugby is in die #2%$.

Vir diegene wat onlangs uit ’n diep slaap uit ontwaak het, hier is die feite: Net een Suid-Afrikaanse span kon dit tot in ’n Super Rugby semi-finaal maak. En daar het hulle ook in die pomp geduik. Die ander klomp – die Bulle, Stormers, Leeus en Cheetahs het redelik swak gedoen.

Hoe kan ’n land soos Suid-Afrika, wat meer spelers as Nieu-Seeland en Australië saam het, so sleg uit die bus uit bliksem?

Om daardie vraag te beantwoord, moet ons teruggaan tot ons terugkeer tot internasionale rugby in 1992.

Dan sal ons sien dat ons intussen nooit pasaangeërs was nie. Nie met taktiek nie en nie met afrigting nie.

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Brad Macleod-Henderson

Brad Macleod-Henderson

Cell C Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson is happy with his side’s victory over Griquas in round one of this year’s Currie Cup competition with the Durban-based outfit besting the Peacock Blues 31-24 in closely contested affair in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon.

The visitors enjoyed a comfortable lead of 18-3 at half-time after Griquas centre Jonathan Francke was shown a Red Card in the seventh minute for a dangerous tackle.

It left the Sharks with one man over on attack as well as defence but, in the end, they had to work hard to best a motivated home side.

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Golden LionsGolden Lions coach Johan Ackermann has named his 23-man side to take on the Blue Bulls in their opening Currie Cup clash at Ellis Park on Saturday.

In the forwards, Ackermann has opted to select Ruan Dreyer at tighthead after Julian Redelinghuys suffered a minor calf injury last week. Schalk van der Merwe and Robbie Coetzee make up the rest of the front row.

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Jacques Botes

Jacques Botes

Veteran forward Jacques Botes is confident the Sharks can defend their Absa Currie Cup crown, despite the prospect of having a vastly inexperienced squad when the competition kicks off this week.

None of the Durban side’s Springboks will be available for the competition, while several experienced campaigners like Charl McLeod, Anton Bresler and Jean Deysel have left to continue their careers overseas.

“I think some people are blowing that (inexperience factor) a little bit out of proportion,” 33-year-old Botes said on Wednesday.

“We have got a young group definitely with a couple of older guys.”

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks will start the defence of the Absa Currie Cup title they won last year feeling the effects of having gone further than all the other teams in the recently completed Vodacom Super Rugby season.

Apart from the fact that they’ve lost more players to the Springboks than most, plus a few players have headed overseas, the Sharks arrived back in Durban after their Super Rugby semifinal loss to the Crusaders with injuries in areas they can ill afford it.

Both locks, Stephan Lewies and Etienne Oosthuizen, have injuries that make them doubtful starters for Saturday’s domestic competition opener against Griquas in Kimberley. Assistant coach Sean Everitt has given the pair’s chances of playing as 50 / 50, with the problem being that there isn’t too much available back-up now that the strong and abrasive Anton Bresler has headed overseas.

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Jake White

Jake White

While it’s perhaps unfair to label Jake White a ‘Tactical Neanderthal’, a well-known Kiwi scribe had a point when he commented on the lack of spark from South African rugby teams in the 15-man code.

New Zealand Herald national newspaper sports columnist, Chris Rattue, earlier this week criticised his compatriots for being less than gracious losers after they lost the Sevens final at the Commonwealth Games to South Africa.

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Jake White

Jake White

Cell C Sharks CEO John Smit says Director of Rugby Jake White won’t be actively involved with the union’s Currie Cup side.

White coached the Sharks’ Super Rugby side, but their Currie Cup team will be coached by Brad MacLeod-Henderson, with Paul Anthony and Sean Everitt as assistants.

Smith told the Sharks’ official website that White will be focusing on other areas at the union during the Currie Cup.

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Conrad Hoffmann

Brumbies scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann has returned to play for the Sharks in this year’s Currie Cup, the Durban team announced via their official website.

The 26-year-old played for the Sharks between 2011 and 2012 after joining from Western Province.

His career was hampered by injuries before getting a lifeline at the Brumbies this year. However, a lack of game time at the Australian side has seen Hoffmann return to the Sharks ahead of the Currie Cup season.

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Kick-off for 2014′s Currie Cup is almost upon us with a full set of fixtures scheduled for 9 August.

Sportingbet have come to the party by pricing up a market for the overall winner of this tournament.

With that in mind, here’s our take on who has a major shot at the trophy and which sides may struggle to keep up with the pace.

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Lubabalo Mtembu

Lubabalo “Tera” Mtembu

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has commended the Sharks rugby team for their appointment on Tuesday of Lubabalo Mtembu as the team’s first black captain.

“The decision to appoint Mtembu is a clear sign that the Sharks rugby team is serious about the transformation of the sport which has been one of the thorny issues since the advent our democratic dispensation in 1994,” African National Congress provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said in a statement.

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John Smit & Tera Mtembu

CEO, John Smit handing Tera Mtembu his jersey

The Sharks are delighted to announce the appointment of talented loose-forward Tera Mtembu as captain of the Cell C Sharks for Absa Currie Cup 2014.

Having come through The Sharks Academy ranks, this dedicated, free-spirited and hard-working youngster has always displayed leadership qualities and is a well-liked and respected member of the squad.

These commendable attributes contributed to him being entrusted with the captaincy armband, whenever he was not on senior duty, during this year’s Vodacom Cup campaign.

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Lionel Cronjé

Lionel Cronjé

The Sharks have landed the services of former Baby Bok Lionel Cronjé.

Cronjé, 25, represented the Brumbies this past season but according to the Sydney Morning Herald’s website, the utility back has signed a two-year deal with the Durban-based Sharks.

He will join them before the start of this year’s Currie Cup competition.

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Tendai Mtawarira

Beast Mtawarira: Feels privileged to play with the Du Plessis brothers

Sharks prop Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira has revealed that he will leave the Durban-based franchise at the end of 2015.

Mtawarira confirmed that he will further his career outside of South Africa after next year’s World Cup in England.

The veteran of 55 Tests with the Springboks, who has played for the Sharks since 2007, said he hopes to get a fresh challenge in Europe.

“My goals for 2015 is to help the Sharks do well in Super Rugby and to help the Springboks win the World Cup,” he told the MyPlayers website.

That would be a dream come true.

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Jake White

Jake White cut a forlorn figure as he watched his troops getting slaughtered

Sorry, it doesn’t cut it for me to hear people state upon their crushing exit on Saturday from Super Rugby 2014: “Well done Sharks, at least you got to the Semis.”

If they are simply putting it in the context of their superior performance in relation to the other South African sides, my retort is “big deal”.

This was a year, after all, when the collective SA challenge was lamentably disappointing and our teams hogged the basement terrain on the overall table.

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Richie McCaw & Nemani Nadolo

STILL GOT IT: Crusaders and All Blacks veteran Richie McCaw celebrates a great night for the franchise with Fijian flier Nemani Nadolo.

New Zealand exhales. Turns out rumours of the decline of Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter have been greatly exaggerated.

McCaw and Carter both produced timely high-quality performances in Christchurch tonight as the Crusaders won through to their 11th – yes, 11th – Super Rugby final with a 38-6 dismantling of the Sharks. The Red ‘n Blacks are now 80 minutes away from their eighth championship – but notably a first since 2008.

On a night when Kieran Read illuminated the big occasion with a stellar demonstration of his remarkable quality, and Fijian find of the year Nemani Nadolo was equally as destructive, the old soldiers McCaw and Carter were not a million miles off the standard set by the best player in the world.

With Read, this sort of stuff is as predictable as it is enjoyable. He is a colossus of the game completely at the peak of his powers. His every minute on the field these days is to be savoured.

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Corey Flynn

Corey Flynn will face his rival as the Crusaders take on the Sharks in Christchurch

Corey Flynn’s journey to tonight’s semifinal, his 150th match for the Crusaders and a clash against Bismarck du Plessis, considered the best hooker in the world, has been a long and often painful one.

There have been the five broken arms which would have forced many to think about packing it in. Not Flynn, though. He has been in and out of the All Blacks – painful in itself, but he believes his many injuries have given him the mental strength to handle it.

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Super RugbyIt is the Semi-Finals of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend! We have only the 2 Semi-Final games in this Round, as all the other 11 teams have now been dispatched. Both games take place on Saturday 27 July 2014.

It is crunch time, as only the winners advance to the Final on 2 August 2014.

The Crusaders and Waratahs host the Semi-Finals, as top contenders on the Combined Super Rugby Log. The challengers are the Cell C Sharks and the Brumbies, who have had to travel in order to see if they can advance against strong home ground advantage, for the Final.

Only 3 Super Rugby games for 2014 remain!

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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Justin MarshallYou can attribute a large part of the Highlanders’ demise last week to their struggles at scrum time against the Sharks.

This was reminiscent, too, of the way the Crusaders succumbed to a short-staffed Sharks team in Christchurch during round robin play.

So, without resorting to the obvious, it is vital that the Crusaders avoid getting dragged into a set-piece arm wrestle against the same opposition tomorrow.

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Jake White

Sharks coach Jake White – Feeling confident

They’re 10,966 kilometres from home and massive outsiders for Saturday night’s Super Rugby semi-final, but Sharks coach Jake White thinks conditions could play into his side’s hands.

The Durban-based team know if they want any chance of stunning the Crusaders for the second time this season, they need to stick to their strengths.

On a cold Christchurch night, the Sharks will be aiming to retain possession, build up pressure and utilise their dominant scrum and rolling maul.

The long kicking games of fullback SP Marais and backline general Francois Steyn will also be integral as they seek to play the game in the right areas of the field.

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SuperBruSuper RugbyRugby-Talk’s SuperBru competition for the 2014 Super Rugby tournament is drawing to a close with only three matches remaining.

In last week’s Qualifying rounds JohnR earned the yellow cap with a solid 5 pointer moving him up 12 places to 31st. Carol still leads the pack of hungry wolves chasing at her heels, but refuses to relinquish her coveted 1st spot. Sharks_Lover is still a close second, with less than a point separating the two.

Both Winston Champ and Charo at 3 and 4 respectively have fallen slightly off the pace, with 3,5 and 5,2 points separating them from Carol.

Before making those SuperBru predictions, let’s have a look at some picks, tips and predictions first.

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Jake White

Is Jake already lining up his excuses?

Is Jake White trying to get his excuses in early should his Shark team lose against the Crusaders on Saturday?

If his tactics against the last placed SA conference side, the Cheetahs, hadn’t backfire and the Sharks were victorious, they would have had the week off and played the semi final at home.

Would he have complained about the format then?

When his Bok team won the 2007 World Cup they did so without having to face either the All Blacks or the Wallabies. White never complained about the format being skewed did he? No, he benefitted and rightly so, the rules are the rules.

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