Sharks relishing Blues test
Auckland - This week, the Sharks will go from their toughest to their favourite opponent from New Zealand when they travel to Albany to take on the Blues in their final Super Rugby tour match on Friday morning.
Last weekend’s win over the Crusaders was their first ever in Christchurch, but on Friday, the Sharks will be looking for their sixth away victory over the Blues.
The KwaZulu-Natalians will also be looking to stretch an impressive winning run that goes back more than nine years, to April 2005, when they last lost to the team from Auckland. Since then, they have won nine straight -- the South African winning streak against any team from abroad -- which includes three away victories, of which two at were at Eden Park and one in Albany.
The Sharks also seem to enjoy playing the Blues in and around Auckland, where they have won five matches out of seven -- much better than their away record against the Chiefs (won three out of nine), Hurricanes (won three out of eight and one draw), Highlanders (won four out of eight) and the Crusaders (won one from 11).
The Blues have been up and down this year, but one thing is for sure --they know how to create tries out of nothing, which is something the Sharks have noted.
“We are going to have to defend,” said Sharks director of rugby, Jake White.
“I don’t think they will kick as much as the Crusaders did -- they’ll definitely try run it back at us and they’ve got some dangerous outside backs.
“But, in saying that, we need to make sure that the rest of our game is good enough as well, we can’t rely on defence only. We got away with it against the Crusaders but I don’t think you can defend like that week in and week out. We are going to have to create some pressure when we are attacking as well.”Teams:Blues:
15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Pita Ahki, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Luke Braid (captain), 6 Peter Saili, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Substitutes: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Steven Luatua, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Albert NikoroSharks:
15 SP Marais, 14 JP Pietersen
, 13 S’bura Sithole, 12 Paul Jordaan
, 11 Lwazi Mvovo
, 10 Francois Steyn, 9 Cobus Reinach
, 8 Willem Alberts
, 7 Tera Mtembu, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Stephan Lewies
, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Kyle Cooper
, 17 Dale Chadwick
, 18 Lourens Adriaanse
, 19 Ryan Kankowski
, 20 Keegan Daniel
, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Heimar Williams