The Cell C Sharks are on a mission this weekend when Vodacom Super Rugby resumes and they travel to Emirates Airline Park to take on the Lions in their return leg match on Saturday afternoon.
The high-riding Lions have enjoyed their best season in years thanks to the confidence built from the continuity they have enjoyed over the last few seasons and currently sit top of the South African Group and African Conference 2, with the Cell C Sharks in second place on the latter log.
Following the International series, Director of Rugby Gary Gold has had to reshuffle his team slightly as they look to put on a performance that gives their hopes of a place in the knock-outs a major boost – that a victory would achieve.
With Willie le Roux unavailable this week, Odwa Ndungane – Mr Dependable – has been named at fullback in a position he is well-suited to. He brings a calm temperament and more than a decade of Super Rugby experience to the Cell C Sharks’ backline which will be crucial against a team like the Lions who will look to exploit any gaps they can find.
With Ndungane there, particularly with his safety under the high ball, this bodes well for a Cell C Sharks defensive effort that boasts the best defence in the tournament.
Fans may well also get a look at 23 year old NWU-Pukke fullback Rhyno Smith who has been named on the bench. He was crowned the overall Player that Rocks for the 2015 Varsity Cup and is an exciting young prospect.
The team, led by Tendai Mtawarira, also features Garth April at flyhalf with Pat Lambie still under observation following his injury in the first Springbok Test against Ireland. Pat has not passed the concussion graduated return to play protocol and will be re-tested next week while Joe Pietersen has a shoulder fracture with an approximate layoff of 6 weeks.
The match kicks off at 5.10pm in a full programme of rugby, and is one of just three remaining rounds in the pool stages.
The Cell C Sharks
|15. Odwa Ndungane||Replacements:|
|14. JP Pietersen||16. Chiliboy Ralepelle|
|13. Paul Jordaan||17. Thomas du Toit|
|12. Andre Esterhuizen||18. Coenie Oosthuizen|
|11. Lwazi Mvovo||19. Ruan Botha|
|10. Garth April||20. Tera Mtembu|
|9. Michael Claassens||21. Stefan Ungerer|
|8. Philip van der Walt||22. Rhyno Smith|
|7. Jean-Luc du Preez||23. S’bura Sithole|
|6. Keegan Daniel|
|5. Stephan Lewies|
|4. Etienne Oosthuizen|
|3. Lourens Adriaanse|
|2. Franco Marais|
|1. Tendai Mtawarira (Captain)|