PREVIEW: Sharks v Chiefs
Friday, May 18, 2018 allblacks.com Getty Images
Match details: Sharks v Chiefs, 1.05am Sunday 19 May (NZT), Durban
Last time: Chiefs 24, Sharks 22 (29 April 2016)
The Chiefs were mightily impressive on defence last week to edge the Stormers 15-9 in a game that was played at a Test-match like intensity. It was a much-need victory for the Chiefs who had slumped to losses against the Jaguares and Hurricanes in recent rounds. The Sharks laid on their best performance of the season two weeks ago with a 38-12 win over the Highlanders but came up short against the Bulls last week in losing a thriller 33-39.
QUICK TAP: SHARKS LOOK TO LIFT AGAIN FOR CHIEFS
DANGEROUS DU PREEZ
No one has been better for the Sharks this year than Robert du Preez. The classy pivot is the leading point-scorer in Super Rugby with 147 points – 33 more points than any other player in the competition. The deadly goal-kicker has landed 54 shots this season with just six misses to underscore his danger. He is also a slick distributor and has the ability to break the line when he chooses to run. With eight try-assists this season, du Preez is proven play-maker and will need to be watched closely by the Chiefs.
With a high injury count compounded by the return of All Blacks Nathan Harris, Brodie Retallick, Damian McKenzie and Anton Lienert-Brown to New Zealand for an All Blacks training camp, the Chiefs have made seven changes to their starting fifteen. There is also plenty of movement on the bench with Matt Matich and Luteru Laulala set to make their Super Rugby debuts from the pine. A notable change comes at first five-eighth where Marty McKenzie replaces his brother Damian for his first start at pivot for the Chiefs since 2015.
The Chiefs (15) and the Sharks (14) have made the most clean breaks per game of any team this campaign.
Despite battling a horror injury count this season, the Chiefs have continued to overcome the odds. It will take another epic effort for the Colin Cooper-coached side to get the win in Durban. Shorn of four All Blacks for this clash, the Chiefs will find it tough against a Sharks side that lifts another level on their home-turf of Kings Park. A trademark of the Chiefs play this year has been their grit, determination and heart – and they will need it in spades this weekend if they are to grab a second straight win in the Republic.
Sharks: Curwin Bosch, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Robert du Preez, Louis Schreuder, Daniel du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Philip van der Walt, Ruan Botha (captain), Tyler Paul, Thomas du Toit, Akker van der Merwe, Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: Franco Marais, Juan Schoeman, Ross Geldenhuys, Stephan Lewies, Jacques Vermeulen, Cameron Wright, Marius Louw, Makazole Mapimpi
Chiefs: Shaun Stevenson, Sean Wainui, Charlie Ngatai (c), Johnny Fa'auli, Solomon Alaimalo, Marty McKenzie, Brad Weber, Pita Gus Sowakula, Liam Messam, Luke Jacobson, Michael Allardice, Tyler Ardron, Angus Ta'avao, Liam Polwart, Karl Tu'inukuafe. Reserves: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Sam Prattley, Sefo Kautai, Jesse Parete, Matt Matich, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Luteru Laulala, Toni Pulu.
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