The Cell C Sharks face their biggest challenge of the season with their Vodacom United Rugby Championship quarter-final clash with Leinster at Aviva Stadium in Dublin later today.

The Cell C Sharks secured a top eight finish and with it a place in the quarter-finals, and what a match this promises to be against the five time Heineken Cup champions.

Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell admitted in the build-up to the big clash that finishing in eighth place meant his side would go into this game as underdogs against a settled Irish side that finished the pool stages top of the log, but that this was not necessarily a bad thing. Instead, all the pressure was placed firmly on the hosts’ shoulders.

“It’s fair to say that Leinster are favourites for this game, they’re a team that’s been together for a long time,” Powell said. “They have flow and momentum and understand what they want to do and what they want to achieve. But there are also one or two areas we can target and will look to do that.

“This gives us a bit of freedom, the pressure is on them to be successful in this game. They did well to beat Toulouse here last week and they will be up for this game.

“This does give us the opportunity to throw everything at them and we have nothing to lose.  Wearing that ‘second favourites’ tag suits us.”

“But make no mistake, it’s going to be a massive task for us to beat them here in Dublin.”

Looking back to the last time the two teams met, when the Cell C Sharks gave the Irish team a real scare, he accepted that the team were able to take important learnings from that game, which they will keep in mind for this game.

“We played very well against them when we met in the pool stages, scoring five tries, but all I remember was Johnny Sexton killing us with those cross kicks in the last 20 minutes and allowing them to get momentum to score tries.

“We’ve looked at that game to see what we can learn from it and take into this game. This team [the Cell C Sharks] is capable of so much, at times this season we’ve shown that we were capable of putting championship teams away, but we know it will take an 80 minute performance from us if we want to be successful.”

In Friday’s first quarter-final, Ulster lost 10-15 at home to Connacht, while the DHL Stormers host the Vodacom Bulls at 3.30pm, the Leinster-Cell C Sharks game takes place at 6pm and finally Glasgow Warriors are up against Munster in the final game of the weekend.