As the Vodacom United Rugby Championship hits week three, the Hollywoodbets Sharks will be gunning for a positive result against Ospreys at the Twickenham Stoop in London this evening.
An opening fortnight against two of the top teams perennially has certainly been a big ask for the Durban side, but it’s also been an opportunity to test themselves against some of the best as well as to build from the foundations that head coach John Plumtree has instituted in his goal to make this one of the best attacking sides that plays attractive and successful rugby.
Reflecting on the four changes that have been made for this game, ranging from injury-enforced, to rotational and opportunities, Hollywoodbets Sharks assistant coach Dave Williams explains: “At hooker, Dylan Richardson comes in as a rotational change after Kerron van Vuuren started the first two game while Coenie Oosthuizen comes back from his HIA and he’s very excited to play.
“With Vincent Tshituka having gone home with a shoulder injury where he will be assessed fully, Sikhumbuzo Notshe gets an opportunity and I think he’ll deliver an unbelievable performance this weekend. We also felt that Aphiwe Dyantyi deserved a start this week.”
With a conflict of scheduling, Ospreys opted to play at a neutral venue while Swansea City and Sunderland play a Championship football match at their home ground at Swansea.
This match takes place at Twickenham Stoop, home ground of Harlequins, and being a neutral venue, may level the playing fields to some degree. Throw in the massive support the Hollywoodbets Sharks enjoy in London and they may be forgiven for feeling the hospitality a home game brings.
“Ospreys are a good side, they had a good win last week against Zebre, but when you give up home ground advantage, it makes it a bit of a neutral venue for both teams,” Williams points out.
“Also, there’s a lot of support for the Hollywoodbets Sharks in London and that could work in our favour.
“We’re excited for this game, but know we’re up against a good team who bring some confidence into this game after last week.”
The first two matches of the tournament proved to be big asks, but nothing the team and coaching staff were unaware of. But after two games, there is a feeling that the team is ready to fire.
“As a coaching team, we spoke about the challenges of this tour before we left, playing two of the top sides in the opening two weeks.
“In both games, we were in it for long periods of time but just couldn’t convert after building pressure, so this weekend, it’s all about continuing the belief and looking to be more ruthless when we get those line-breaks.”