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SR18 Preview: Sharks v Sunwolves {10-3-18}

The Sharks host the Sunwolves at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday with both sides in search of their first wins of the season. 

The Sharks lost 27-19 to the Lions in Johannesburg on the opening day before a 24-24 draw last weekend with the Waratahs in Sydney.

Meanwhile, the Sunwolves suffered a 32-25 defeat to the Brumbies before the Rebels beat them 37-18, with both games on home soil.

The Japanese side go on tour having never won away from home in the competition. They have conceded 146 points in their last two games on their travels.

But they have shown they are an improved outfit this season, especially in the Brumbies game, where they actually led at the interval.

With new coach Jamie Joseph, there is plenty of renewed hope and expectation surrounding the Sunwolves. But there are still plenty of worrying signs.

The lineout, for example, was schoolboy level against the Rebels last week as they lost their first four throws in a row in that match.

The Sharks thrive on set-piece and will be looking to make it a stop-start game, while the Sunwolves will prefer a looser, more unstructured game.

With Curwin Bosch’s selection at full-back, expect the Sharks to kick for the corners and play from there, asking the Sunwolves the question whether they can secure their own lineout.

At fly-half, Robert du Preez has made a promising start to his Sharks career, scoring a try in each of his two games thus far, pulling in a points tally of 23 across those games.

Last season, the Sharks were guilty of letting their guard down against the so-called smaller teams, with a draw against the Rebels and a loss to the Kings.

They will be looking to show a ruthless streak this campaign by turning on the style here and laying down a marker for the season ahead.

Team news: Curwin Bosch gets a start at full-back for the Sharks with Lwazi Mvovo shifting to the bench after two starts.

In other backline changes, Sbu Nkosi moves from left to right wing, where he replaces Kobus van Dyk, while Makazole Mapimpi comes in to the run-on side to wear the number 11 jersey.

In the forwards, Tera Mtembu takes over from Keegan Daniel while Jacques Vermeulen shifts from the blindside to openside flank, in place of Tyler Paul, with Wian Vosloo packing down on the other side of the scrum in his debut for the Sharks.

The final changes are in the front-row where Akker van der Merwe and Chiliboy Ralepelle have both been bracketed to start at hooker with a final decision to be made closer to the game’s kick off while John-Hubert Meyer replaces Thomas du Toit at tighthead prop.

Meanwhile, the Sunwolves have made wholesale changes to their side.

Only William Tupou remains in the backline that started against the Rebels as Keisuke Uchida and Harumichi Tatekawa come in at scrum-half and fly-half respectively. Michael Little and Sione Teaupa are the centres while Lomano Lemeki is at 14 and Kotaro Matsushima is full-back.

Up front Craig Millar, Michael Leitch and Willie Britz retain their places in the side from last week, with Britz switching to number eight.

Hooker Yusuke Niwai, tighthead Takuma Asahara, locks Grant Hattingh and Kazuki Himeno and flanker Yoshitaka Tokunaga all start.

Previous results:

2017: Sharks won 38-17 in Singapore
2016: Sharks won 40-29 in Durban

The teams:

Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Wian Vosloo, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (c), 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Akker van der Merwe/Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe/Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Lwazi Mvovo

Sunwolves: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Lomano Lemeki, 13 Sione Teaupa, 12 Michael Little, 11 William Tupou, 10 Harumichi Tatekawa, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 6 Michael Leitch, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Kazuki Himeno, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 1 Craig Millar
Replacements: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Shintaro Ishihara, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Wimpie van der Valt, 20 Lappies Labuschagne, 21 Yutaka Nagare, 22 Ryoto Nakamura, 23 Robbie Robinson

Date: Saturday, March 9
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 15:05 local (13:05 GMT)
Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds (South Africa), Archie Sehlako (South Africa)
Television match official: Marius Jonker (South Africa)



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