The six team SA Rugby Under 21 Cup reaches the semi-final stage this weekend, with the Hollywoodbets Sharks Under 21s in action against the Fidelity ADT Lions Under 21s in one semi-final, with Western Province and the Blue Bulls contesting the second knock-out.
Friday’s clash between the two teams is a repeat fixture of the final round, when the Lions also hosted the Hollywoodbets Sharks, although the Durban side will hope for a different outcome this time around.
Their only other defeat was in the first round, when they went down narrowly to Western Province, losing 20-17, but a three match streak ensured a third-placed finish in the tournament.
In week two, they hit the road running in emphatic fashion, a 31-13 victory over the visiting Free State Cheetahs at Hollywoodbets Kings Park kicked their campaign into gear, and the confidence and momentum they took out of that game delivered a 19-5 defeat over the Blue Bulls in Durban the following week.
A hat-trick of victories was secured in round four, another statement in the competition, when they beat the Leopards 45-14 to wrap up a top four finish and a place in the knock-outs.
Ethan Hooker continues to lead the side with aplomb and will look to exhort his charges onto great achievements.
Coach JP Pietersen believes that his team is in a good place and set to impress in this match.
“It’s been a good season for us, after that close loss to Province, we built nice confidence at home,” he explains of the season so far. “There’s good confidence for such a young group that includes 19 and 20 year olds.
“They took a lot of belief out of those wins, to not only compete but actually dominate in the Under 21 comp.
“Last week we played the Lions for a home or away semi, but unfortunately came up short, but a good learning curve for the boys to bounce back at the same venue, so no excuses from us.
“We’ve had a good week of prep, we have some players back from injury and that gives us a bit of a boost. But the belief is there that we can do the job up in Joburg and I believe the boys can do the job.”
Friday’s game at Wits University Stadium, Johannesburg, kicks off at 1pm.
The Hollywoodbets Sharks Under 21s:
- Abraham Reyneke
- Bryce Calvert
- Nicholas Snyman
- Coetzee Le Roux
- Marco de Witt
- Damon Royle
- Thomas Dyer
- Nicholas Hatton (V/Captain)
- Bradley Davids
- Stehan Heymans
- Litelihle Bester
- Ethan Hooker (Captain)
- Jurenzo Julius
- Singele Mkhize
- Banie Britz
- Jacques Marais
- Dylan Willis
- Munashe Mhere
- Sphephelo Mbonambi
- Matthew Fick
- Tiaan Fourie
- Drico Marx
- Larry Nkonki