MiWay T20 Challenge
Double whammy for Cape fans
Cape Town - There could be a double whammy for Western Cape sports fans when the Dolphins and Sharks compete on opposite sides of the Newlands railway tracks in the space of 24 hours this weekend.
First up will be the Dolphins, who take on the Cobras in the first leg of the Pro20 semi-final at Sahara Park.
Then at 17:00 on Saturday, the Sharks will be up against the Stormers in the Super 14 derby at Newlands, where rugby fans will see many of the country's first-choice Springboks in action.
The Cobras have already on two occasions pulled in some 12 000 fans for home matches this season but with so many high-profile names in action, Newlands will be bursting at the seams on Friday when a crowd of 14 000 is anticipated. It's likely that many rugby fans will arrive a day ahead of the Sharks' match to cheer on the Dolphins.
The Pro20 semi-finalists will not only be playing for a final berth, but also for a place in the lucrative IPL Champions League, which gets underway in April. Just qualifying for the Champions League will guarantee teams an appearance fee of just over R5 million.
The second leg will take place in Durban on Sunday.
Sharks v Stormers clashes in the past have revealed that the Durbanites have a massive support base in the Mother City and there will be no shortage of support on the terraces. It's likely that the match will attract a sell-out crowd.
The Stormers are probably one of the best supported Super 14 teams, but the cheers from the home crowd will not be enough when the New Zealand-born coach John Plumtree opens the shark tank to let loose the likes of Tendai 'The Beast' Mtawarira, Ruan Pienaar, Francois Steyn, Ryan Kankowski and the Du Plessis brothers, Jannie and Bismarck on the hallowed Newlands turf.
Three other Sharks players, Adrian Jacobs, Deon Carstens and JP Pietersen, are born and bred in Cape Town.
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers heads up a side that will be under enormous pressure to perform and he knows all too well that winning home games in vital is the quest to reach the play-offs at the business end of the season.
There is some doubt about the fitness of Fijian wing Sireli Naqelevuki who is a potent force in the Stormers backline.
Should Naqelevuki be unable to play it is likely that the Springboks' No 1 fullback Conrad Jantjes will step into his shoes to allow Percy Montgomery to wear the No 15 jumper, which is where is most useful in the backline.
De Villiers remains a matchwinner but unless his pack can hold their own in the forward exchanges he won't have a platform to unleash his playmaking capabilities.
The Stormers have yet to convince that they can field a tight five capable of dominating upfront and here they'll be relying on the Zimbabwean-born prop Brian Mujati to show the way.
Both Plumtree and his Stormers counterpart Rassie Erasmus will be counting heavily on dominating at the breakdown points where the game could be won or lost. The Stormers will be sending out Schalk Burger, new signing Duane Vermeulen and possibly Luke Watson to patrol the loose where the Sharks will stake their claims through Kankowski, Jean Deysel and Keegan Daniel.