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Preview: Sharks v Highlanders

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Thursday, April 24, 2014    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

What did they do last week? The Sharks beat the Cheetahs 19-8 at home while the Highlanders had the bye. However the week before they beat the Bulls 27-20 and go into the game with three wins from their last four matches.

Things you need to know: The Sharks are employing yet another first five-eighths and it is the inexperienced Tim Swiel who has been entrusted with the duties this week.

Reason to watch:
Some seriously good back play is on the cards in this game. The Sharks have welcomed key three-quarters in JP Pietersen and Paul Jordaan and they should add spark to the backline effort.

Reason to turn worry:
The smaller Highlanders loose forwards could be in for a torrid night against a big Sharks pack.

Say what: "Ben Smith and Aaron Smith are probably the two form players in New Zealand, and have been for the last couple of seasons, not just this year. Everything starts and revolves around those two guys." – Sharks coach Jake White.

Final instructions:
The Highlanders can expect to face one of the tougher defensive screens in the competition. At home the Sharks have been unstoppable this year and their closest opponent has been within 11 points of them. They have good goal-kicking form and their 38 penalty goals are 10 more than any other side in the competition. On top of that they are one of the better attacking sides around. It is a tough match first up for the Highlanders but they are rested after a tough game against the Bulls, and then the bye. The Highlanders are an emerging force but the Sharks have generally held the upper hand in the most recent encounters with four wins in the last five games, their loss being by three points in Dunedin last year. The Sharks should maintain that record this year.

Teams:


Sharks:
1.Tendai Mtawarira, 2.Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 3.Jannie du Plessis, 4.Willem Alberts, 5.Stephan Lewies, 6.Marcel Coetzee, 7.Jean Deysel, 8.Keegan Daniel, 9.Charl McLeod, 10.Tim Swiel, 11.S'bura Sithole, 12.Frans Steyn, 13.Paul Jordaan, 14.JP Pietersen, 15. Lwazi Mvovo.
Reserves: 16.Kyle Cooper, 17.Dale Chadwick, 18.Lourens Adriaanse, 19.Etienne Oosthuizen, 20.Ryan Kankowski, 21.Stefan Ungerer, 22.Heimar Williams, 23.SP Marais

Highlanders:
TBA

Referee: Jaco Peyper