Qualification Time

With one round of the SA Under 19 Championship remaining, the Cell C Shark Under 19s have already wrapped up top spot that secures a home semi-final, while the Under 21s will look to secure their own place in the qualifiers.

The result of the Under 19s match against the Golden Lions is purely academic as the Blue Bulls, in second place, are eight points adrift but have played all their pool matches already while the Golden Lions themselves can’t finish any higher or lower than third which means this final weekend is all about preparing in the best possible manner for the knock-out rounds commencing on the 20th of October.

Head coach Sean Everitt has made three changes to the side that defeated Free State 42-12 last week. Fezokuhle Mbatha returns to hooker and Dylan Richardson moves to flank with Adam Mountford moving to reserves while Murray Koster returns to inside centre with DJ Falconer shifting to the bench. Finally, Le Roux Malan returns from a long-term injury layoff, replacing Onke Jiba amongst the reserves.

Under 21 head coach Ricardo Loubscher has made just a couple of changes to the team that defeated Free State 44-28 last week for his team’s final round clash as they look to stave off Free State’s late charge for a top four finish.

Ruben van Heerden comes into the second row with last week’s number 4 lock Dylan Weideman shifting to flank in place of Marco Palvie while there’s a straight rotation at scrumhalf, with Xavier Swartbooi and Francois de Villiers swapping jerseys. The final change sees Aphelele Fassi come in on the wing, following some outstanding performances for the Cell C Sharks in the Currie Cup.

“It was important for us to bounce back after the previous week and nice to get the five points, but we have another tough one this Friday,” said Loubscher. “The boys are in a good head space and just want to play.”

“With Free State breathing down our necks, we want to hold our destiny in our own hands and not leave it up to the outcome of their match against EP, so we’re playing for a win.”

However, it’s not going to be easy against a strong side full of quality players.

“If you look at the DNA of the Lions, it’s all about their players representing their province and country at Craven Week, SA Schools and SA Under 21 and they may even have players dropping down from their Currie Cup side. This makes them even more dangerous, but we took momentum and confidence out of the Free State game.

“It’s all going to come down to defence. I know we’re going to score tries, but if we can keep them out then we’ll do well. There’s a good vibe in the camp and the boys know this is it if we want to qualify.”

The Under 19s kick off their match at 12h30 at Emirates Airline Park with the Under 21s playing at 15h00.

Cell C Sharks Under 19s

  1. James Scott
  2. Fezokuhle Mbatha
  3. Francois Klopper
  4. Lappies Labuschagne
  5. JJ van der Mescht
  6. Vian Fourie
  7. Dylan Richardson
  8. Phepsi Buthelezi (Capt)
  9. Sanele Nohamba
  10. Henry Chamberlain
  11. Asanda Kunene
  12. Murray Koster
  13. Muller du Plessis
  14. Caleb Dingaan
  15. Thaakir Abrahams

Replacements

  1. Cole Haggard
  2. Charles Staples
  3. Ignacio Vidal
  4. Sean Barnes
  5. Adam Mountford
  6. Matthew Doyle
  7. Le Roux Malan
  8. DJ Falconer

Cell C Sharks Under 21s

  1. Jordan Els
  2. Franco Botha
  3. Khutha Mchunu (Captain)
  4. Ruben van Heerden
  5. Andrew Evans
  6. Austin Brummer
  7. Dylan Weideman
  8. Kwanda Dimaza
  9. Xavier Swartbooi
  10. Courtney Winnaar
  11. Ilunga Mukendi
  12. Khail Kotzenberg
  13. James Tedder
  14. Aphelele Fassi
  15. Shane van Rooyen

Replacements

  1. Matt Wiseman
  2. Christiaan de Jager
  3. Jacques Ackerman
  4. William Squires
  5. Francois de Villiers
  6. Gert Cronje
  7. Sicelo Tole