Gold wary of dangerous Cheetahs
Cape Town - The Sharks enter this weekend's penultimate round of Super Rugby knowing that victory over the Cheetahs at Kings Park will almost certainly guarantee them a spot in the tournament quarter-finals.
The final weekend of the regular season sees Gary Gold's men hosting the Sunwolves in a match they will surely win, making the Cheetahs clash the potentially defining moment in the Sharks' season so far.
The Sharks are currently three points ahead of the Bulls in the South African Group, meaning that victory in their last two matches will put them out of sight and into the last eight.
On paper, the Sharks will be overwhelming favourites to get the job done against the Cheetahs.
Franco Smith's men are lying 5th on the South African Group log and have won just four of their 13 matches this season.
But Gold has seen enough from the Bloemfontein-based outfit not to take anything for granted.
"I think the last two weeks are going to be difficult in any
case," he said following his side's 37-10 loss to the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
"The Cheetahs are coming off a good win today (Saturday) and I actually think have been playing
some pretty good rugby at stages this season.
"You see what they did to the
Sunwolves at home, so it was always going to be tough."
On Saturday the Cheetahs put in an impressive first half performance and then held on in the second half to edge the Western Force 30-29, but the match against the Sunwolves that Gold is referring to came back on April 15.
That day, the Cheetahs scored 14 tries to smash their Japanese opposition 92-17 in Bloemfontein.
Against the Lions, the Sharks were woeful in the first half and Gold bemoaned their lack of game management.
That was not helped by flyhalf Garth April, who struggled to do anything right in the opening stages of the match as the Sharks slipped to a 27-0 deficit.
A decision on Pat Lambie's availability for the Cheetahs game is expected to be taken on Tuesday as he continues his recovery from concussion.
Gold will be desperate to have his captain and playmaker back on the field for what is the business end of this competition.