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Sharks under Pressure & Luke Watson returns

Sharks v Cheetahs at Kings Park, Durban, Saturday 17:05

Plumtree

John Plumtree

Will the Cheetahs let another opportunity slip? This is the big question for this fixture. The Sharks are seriously under strain as the underperformance of Springboks Ryan Kankowski and Frans Steyn is contributing to the pressure on the team. Coach Plumtree has confirmed that Kankowski will not be going on tour, and on Saturday, Frans will be either be playing off the bench, or considered for the midfield.  Although at home, the Sharks might be struggling this weekend. The Beast and Jannie du Plessis will need to front up as their performance against the Stormers left much to be desired. On a positive note, lock Pieter-Steph du Toit and scrumhalf Jaco Reinach are exciting prospects and may just ignite some much needed magic to get the Sharks on the front foot.

The Cheetahs once again have all going for them – their counter attacking was once again excellent last weekend, coupled with some super defence! Perhaps more focus is needed this week on their decision making as this is where Drotske felt they lost the game against the Bulls.

There is one change to this week’s side; Drotske brought  Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen, into the starting line-up for the first time this season. Although away from home, I would say a fair bet is to place a wager on the Cheetahs to win by 5.

Southern Kings v Bulls at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, Saturday 19:10

Luke Watson

Luke Watson

A sold-out stadium has the friendly city buzzing with excitement for this fixture. The Kings face a mighty Bulls side as they (the Kings) return home after a hugely successful tour.  The Kings made a change that I am quite nervous about – Luke Watson returns to lead the side. It’s not because of his past, as I think much of the enmity towards him is gone, but rather his form, coupled with continuity in a winning side. This could change the dynamics of the side. I am sure, though, that he will do his best to continue the good work the side has done so far. Never the less, I am nervous!

 

The Bulls field an unchanged fifteen, but on the bench they welcome back winger Basson after an injury layoff. I imagine the Bulls will be too strong for the Kings, but if they should underestimate the side from PE, and not show the necessary respect, they might just end up on the wrong side of their desired result, which is five log points – The Brumbies can testify to that.

My heart says Kings, but my head says Bulls; perhaps it is the old phenomenon of support for the underdog! Bulls by at least 8, would be my bet.

From Paul in England: I predict four points for the Stormers. They managed this in almost all their matches last year, so I reckon it is a relatively safe prediction.

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