Fleet-footed Aphelele Fassi makes welcome return for Sharks

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The Sharks take on the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in a Currie Cup clash on Sunday ready to kick their campaign up a gear.

Kick-off is at 16:30.

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Coach Sean Everitt has made four changes to his side, handing John Hubert-Meyer a start at tighthead and welcoming back Ruben van Heerden in the second row.

Among the backs, there are also two changes, scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse earning his first start for the Sharks with Jeremy Ward coming in for Marius Louw at centre.

There is a welcome return from injury for Aphelele Fassi who has been named on the bench.

“We were disappointed with the performance against the Lions, but we’ll put it down to a bad day at the office and the guys are really motivated to rectify it this weekend,” explained Everitt.

“The guys still showed a lot of effort, but the truth is that we weren’t able to fire a shot and never really got out of first gear. But funny enough, with 15 minutes to go, we had an opportunity to pull a win out the bag, but generally the performance didn’t deserve a win.”

SHARKS LOOKING TO MAKE BIG IMPROVEMENTS

After a performance that doesn’t quite tick all the boxes, the following match is an opportunity to rectify the mistakes and make big improvements.

Everitt admitted that the Sharks’ focus will be more on themselves than the opposition for Sunday’s match.

“There were a lot of things we didn’t get right against the Lions and those were things that determine outcomes in games and we need to focus on that rather than the opposition.

“We know what’s coming from the Cheetahs, they need to win their last three matches for them to be in contention come knockout time, so we’re under no illusions as to what they will bring.

“It’s a challenge for us but the players are certainly up for it.”

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In the weekend’s only other Currie Cup clash, WP will host Griquas at Newlands on Saturday, December 26 at 16:30.

The Bulls v Lions clash, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed to Wednesday, January 6 after an outbreak of Covid-19 in the Pretoria franchise’s camp.

The Pumas have a bye.

Looking at the log, a defeat for the Cheetahs will rule them out of playoff contention, while a win for the Sharks will see them close the gap on log-leaders, the Bulls.

TEAMS:

Cheetahs

15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Rubende Haas, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner (captain), 3 Khutha Mchunu, 2 Marnus van der Merwe, 1 Boan Venter

Substitutes: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Cameron Dawson, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Victor Sekekete, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rhyno Smith

Sharks

15 Manie Libbok, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 John Hubert-Meyer, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche

Substitutes: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Khwezi Mona, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Werner Kok, 23 Aphelele Fassi

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