The Hollywoodbets Sharks entertain Zebre Parma in Sunday’s EPCR Challenge Cup Round of 16 knock-out at Hollywoodbets Kings Park knowing that they must capitalise on their recent successes.

After two games with an almost full squad available, and two wins from those games, the Durban side are enjoying good form. Home ground advantage and continuity in squad selection help, but it’s important that the team continue their winning ways, playing energetic, committed rugby.

“I think the side that can gain the most territory will be the side that is hardest to beat,” explained head coach John Plumtree in the build-up to the match. “What I’d like to see is us coming out with a winning territory stat and building pressure with the ball in their half.”
Looking at the weather predictions, Plumtree felt that the conditions will be something of a leveller in this game.“The set-piece battle will be tough with a lot of scrums and lineouts and we can expect a lot of kicking, so it’s how we handle all of those moments.

“Zebre will come here wanting to take us on upfront.”
Recent good form has come off the back of having the Springboks back from their resting period and a few players back from injury. Now is the time to take advantage of the continuity in team selection and results.

“We’re excited about this stage, we reset some goals around these four weeks, picking up two wins from home in the first two weeks which has been great for everyone. We’ve picked up confidence, our fans are enjoying what we’re doing which is really important to us and now we’re at the stage where we have an opportunity to host a quarter-final.

“Knock-out rugby comes with a different set of pressures. We’re playing against a side that’s already beaten us this season, we know what’s coming and we know what we need to do, it’s a case of building the excitement back again which we have this week.
“The boys want to get out there and perform really well.”

This Hollywoodbets Sharks side has not had things all go their own way this season, there’s no hiding from the fact that it hasn’t lived up to expectations. However, on recent form and given the quality of the squad when everyone is available, the last two weeks have shown what the team is capable of.This bodes well for the weeks ahead, and further down the line. It’s also a time when the team has built fortitude and character.

“What I’m really pleased about is the way this team has really stuck together,” Plumtree explained.
“We’ve had some real tough times but a lot of things have happened behind the scenes where we think we’re improving and the team is still tight. We’ve had to overcome many challenges but that doesn’t take away from the fact that we’re not happy to be not competing in the URC.
“However, we do have the Challenge Cup to look forward to and that’s why this game is really important to us.”