The Crusaders have secured a home quarterfinal and will host the Sharks at AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday.
A win against the Jaguares saw the Sharks through to the knock-out stage courtesy of an eighth-place finish, but this has resulted in a knock-out match against the top of the table Crusaders.
Sharks assistant coach Dick Muir said that there’s a lot of excitement:
“The team had a long haul getting to Christchurch but everyone is in good spirits. We’re coming off a good win and the team is ready to have a go,” he said according to the Sharks’ website.
The big games have brought out the best in the Sharks this season and Muir expects nothing different on Saturday against the Crusaders.
“Absolutely, they have the players but our expectations are pretty high as we get to the business end of the competition. Not too many people are giving us a chance so it’s a great opportunity to prove them wrong.”
Not that this is the motivation, but certainly a Sharks win would be an upset, given the fact that the favorites’ tag is firmly on the shoulders of the Crusaders.
“The Crusaders have made their presence felt in the competition,” Muir said of their opponents.
The Crusaders won 14 of the 16 games in the regular season and finished the pool stages of the tournament with 12 log points more than the nearest rivals, the Hurricanes.
“They’ve played a brand of rugby that has brought them a lot of success and we’re respectful of that.”
Crusaders team and injury news
Head Coach Scott Robertson has named his team for the knock-out fixture, and it includes three changes in the forwards and two in the backs from the side that defeated the Blues last week.
All Blacks front-rowers Codie Taylor and Owen Franks return to the starting line-up at hooker and tighthead respectively, meaning Andrew Makalio and Michael Alaalatoa move to the reserves bench.
Scott Barrett also returns from a rest week to resume his role at lock, and Luke Romano will once again provide cover on the bench. The loose forward trio of Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, and Kieran Read remains unchanged this week, with Read having recovered from the wrist/thumb injury he sustained against the Blues.
Bryn Hall and Mitchell Drummond will again switch for this game, so that Hall takes the starting spot at halfback and Drummond moves to the bench. The only other change sees David Havili rejoin the squad at fullback in place of Israel Dagg.
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Tim Perry
Substitutes: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele
Sharks team and injury news
Sharks head coach Robert du Preez has been able to name a completely unchanged match 23 for Saturday’s Super Rugby quarter-final clash with the Crusaders.
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (c), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Makazole Mapimpi
Saturday, 21 July at 09:35 (SAST).
TV & Live Stream
SuperSport1 (subscription required) at 09:30 (SAST).