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    Sharks enter vital phase

    2013-04-02 20:27

    Durban - Sharks assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards is happy with the way the season has gone thus far, despite conceding they are a few points shy of where they'd like to be on the Super Rugby log.

    The Durbanites collected 21 points from five opening fixtures to be third on the overall log. This week they host seven-time champions, the Crusaders, on the back of a bye last week.

    "At this stage of the competition, we’re probably a bonus point or two short, but we’ll take four wins out of five," Reece-Edwards said.

    "We have three games before touring and there are some targets set. We also have to look at bonus points along the line."

    John Plumtree’s men have managed just one bonus point so far compared to three for the log-leading Brumbies, and five for the Chiefs in second.

    After their clash against one of New Zealand’s best teams this Friday, they take on the Stormers in Cape Town next week, and then welcome the Cheetahs to Kings Park, before heading to Australasia.

    Reece-Edwards expected a tough battle in all three matches, starting with the fifth-placed Crusaders.

    "All three of these matches are absolutely vital for our campaign. And every match against the Crusaders is a passionate clash. They have arguably been New Zealand’s best side in the history of the competition and a side that our guys measure themselves against," he said.

    "We know there will be no lack of passion and getting up for this game. We just want to be in a good space. We’ve been looking for the turnover, the counter, and in the first few games they didn’t really come our way. Against the Rebels we had the opportunity to execute and we managed to do that."

    The Sharks crushed the Rebels 64-7 in their last game, a result that came on the back of their solo loss of the season, when they went down to the Brumbies 29-10 in Durban.

    They are still without several of their star players, with the likes of Bismarck du Plessis (knee), Willem Alberts (shoulder), Butch James (knee), Jean Deysel (ankle) and Tim Whitehead (hand), all out through injury. However, those players are slowly expected to make their way back to full fitness over the coming weeks.

    "We have eight games before the June break and that will be a long, hard slog," Reece-Edwards added.

    "But in that time, we should also get those five players back. Getting them back is a third of your team and it freshens up a few people. It will be good for us."

    The Sharks announce their team for the Crusaders clash on Wednesday.

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