Plumtree calls for repeat
Durban - Sharks coach John Plumtree has urged his team to ensure that last week's comprehensive victory over the Bulls was not a once-off performance ahead of their final Super Rugby encounter of the league stage against the Cheetahs in Durban on Saturday.
The coastal side are in sixth place on the overall log and must win the match with a bonus point to secure playoff qualification -- even though that scenario may change by the time they kick-off at King's Park.
A week ago, everything came together as they beat their Pretoria rivals 32-10, but they need to build on that performance this week.
"Our set-pieces have been going really well and we took some real confidence from our lineouts last week," Plumtree said.
"We just need to make sure as a group that wasn’t just a one-off performance.
"We have competition coming back into the pack, and if we can get our 'loosies' and locks fit, it will be good for us."
Forwards Willem Alberts and Jacques Botes missed the Bulls encounter through injury and will both return to boost the bench this week, while Springbok back Patrick Lambie is back in the starting XV.
There are several scenarios for the Sharks, who can even make the playoffs with a loss if the Reds and Hurricanes fail to take anything from their matches against the Waratahs and Chiefs respectively.
A win can take them as high as fourth if the Crusaders lose to the Force, and the Bulls slip up against the Lions.
The Cheetahs, on the other hand, are playing for pride, but Plumtree has warned his charges against complacency.
"The leadership within the group has to drive that [the motivation]," he said.
"You can talk about it during the week, but on the day if the boys aren’t up for it you can get hurt.
"The South African derbies are always very tough and generally closely contested.
"That's what you’ve got to be prepared for, nothing else should be on your mind."
The Cheetahs have handed a debut to Springbok sevens player Boom Prinsloo at number eight, while Philip Snyman comes in on the wing following their 13-6 home loss to the Stormers last weekend.
The match could also be the last for a few players from both teams who are moving abroad after the competition.
"There are a couple of boys from their side that are leaving as well, so they'll want to play big games in their last games in the jersey -- guys like WP Nel and Ashley Johnson," Plumtree said.
"So pride is a big thing for a lot of teams and we’ll have to be on the money."