Sharks have opportunity to show they’ve become versatile
The Sharks won’t have S’bu Nkosi available this week. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images)
Playing their opening match in hot and humid Durban did not really provide the Sharks with the opportunity to showcase their positive intent for the 2020 season, but their game against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday morning will be played with the roof of the Forsyth Barr Stadium closed, providing the perfect chance for them to show that they can combine ball-in-hand, expansive flair with the demands of a tactical game in which they dominate territory.
A new-look Highlanders team will no doubt also want to throw the ball around, although the boot of scrumhalf Aaron Smith is also a prime tactical weapon, but if the Sharks pack can get things together in the set-pieces, then that exciting backline should get the chance to shine. – Ken Borland
Elton and the Lions’ fortunes are linked
Elton Jantjies of Lions and Marnus Schoeman of Lions react at the end of a match between Jaguares and Lions as part of Super Rugby 2020 at JosÈ Amalfitani Stadium on February 1, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Daniel Jayo/Getty Images)
After only one round of Super Rugby it’s probably premature to already write a team off or, if we look at the other side of the coin, to hail them as the new warriors.
But last week the Lions were the worst local team on show by some distance and it’s no coincidence that when flyhalf Elton Jantjies doesn’t fire, the Lions don’t either.
Jantjies probably played one his worst games last weekend against the Jaguares than he has for some time.
He missed a conversion and early penalty, he kicked the ball out too far when the Lions could have had an attacking lineout when they were still in the game, he dropped balls, he missed tackles … should we go on?
Let’s hope on Saturday against the Reds that he can show the captaincy doesn’t influence his game negatively. – Rudolph Jacobs
It’s all about the front rows at Newlands
Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe during the DHL Stormers training session and press conference at High Performance Centre on February 04, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images)
The classic North/South derby will be played at Newlands for the last time.
And the two best front rows in the country will be at the centre of the action: Trevor Nyakane, restored to the starting line-up, takes on the Ginger Ninja, Steven Kitshoff, while the exciting loosehead prop Lizo Gqoboka packs down against the anchor of the Springboks’ World Cup winning scrum, Frans Malherbe.
As in the old African proverb about what happens when two elephants fight, it’s going to be the grass that suffers most, but the outcome of the scrummaging contest will go a long way towards deciding the result of the match. – KB
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