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World-class Springboks come to the rescue for Sharks clash against Scarlets

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Durban – The Scarlets have won their last five home matches, their best run at Parc y Scarlets since 2019, but you would have to expect that to come to an end on Saturday when a Sharks team armed to the teeth with Springboks rumbles into town.

As warned by the Sharks’ bosses a few weeks ago, every one of the Sharks’ Boks has been picked for this match and they will be kept en masse as long as the Sharks are involved in the United Rugby Championship and the Heineken Cup.

The Sharks’ pack is truly world-class and is light years away from the lightweight unit that was blasted off the park by the Stormers, home and away, while the Boks were away doing their World Cup homework.

Those defeats have left the Sharks in a perilous seventh place on the log, with three rounds remaining, and as winger Werner Kok pointed out earlier this week, only sixth place and above will secure them a quarter-final berth (and Heineken Cup qualification).

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This is because the rules state that all five participating countries must be represented in the quarter-finals. Currently, there are no Italian or Welsh teams in the top eight, so the highest-finishing team from those countries would be bumped up at the expense of the teams in eighth and seventh.

Speaking of Welsh teams, the Scarlets are on the trail of countrymen Cardiff in the quest for the Welsh Shield, the reward of which is a place in the top eight. They are now only five points behind them having turned their season around after winning just one of their first nine matches.

Cardiff has scrum-half Kieran Hardy returning from Wales squad duty but experienced backs Johnny McNicholl (knee) and Jonathan Davies (calf) are sidelined, with Davies set to miss the rest of the season.

It shouldn’t matter much who the Scarlets pick because the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Bongi Mbonambi and Siya Kolisi are on a mission to win each of the Sharks’ last three games with bonus points, as Kok pointed out.

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Incidentally, the Sharks have lost just two of the seven previous fixtures they have played against Welsh regions and both of those defeats were to Cardiff in October 2021 and November 2022.

The two sides have met just once before, in Durban last March, with the Sharks winning 37-20.

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Sharks team: 15 Boeta Chamberlain, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Siya Kolisi (capt) 5 ,Emile van Heerden, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Bongi Mbonambi 1 Ox Nche.

Bench: Kerron van Heerden, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Carlu Sadie, Gerbrandt Grobler, Grant Williams, Ben Tapuai, Thaakir Abrahams.

IOL Sport

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