Match Preview: Hollywoodbets Sharks vs Oyonnax

The Hollywoodbets Sharks’ third round clash against Oyonnax Rugby in the EPCR Challenge Cup is a vital game in the team’s quest for a place in the play-offs.

Halfway through the pool stages, the Hollywoodbets Sharks play their final home game before a trip to Wales to take on the Dragons next Sunday before the competition goes in the knock-out stages in the first weekend in April and a result at Hollywoodbets Kings Park will put the team on the right footing to progress further.

“If we can get a win and then do the job in Wales, then we’re in contention potentially for a quarter-final which would be great, especially if it was a home game which is certainly the plan,” explains Hollywoodbets Sharks head coach John Plumtree.

“There’s been a lot of frustration over the last few weeks, we’ve lost some close encounters and we need to finds some wins to get the confidence up with the group to get onto a winning run.

“We’re trying to get our game going, the one that we want to play for 80 minutes.”

Man of the Match last week, Eben Etzebeth’s role this week is off the bench in one of only two changes to the starting line-up.

“I’m conscious of Eben’s game time, it’s really important that we manage him properly, so we’re taking away the stress of a start and bringing him off the bench some time in the second half,” Plumtree explains.

“It’s really important to manage that game time of our Springboks.”

Looking at their French opponents, Plumtree warns that Oyonnax are, “Your typical French side: they’re very physical with a good offload game. They play with a lot of continuity in their game, and we’re expecting a pretty tough challenge.”

It has been a challenging time for the Hollywoodbets Sharks and after last week’s 20 000 crowd at home, another big, supportive crowd can only be a huge boost for the team.

“It’s important that the fans believe in us, there’s a bigger picture to the plan that we want, that the Hollywoodbets Sharks are not where they need to be, but there are a lot of positives around what we’re doing here.

“It’s become a pretty challenging environment to be in, where the players are encouraged to be better professionals and we’ve put systems in place to improve their rugby, both collectively and individually.

“We have a really nice culture going and I have a group of players that are really motivated and really keen to get things right.”