It’s the final round of the United Rugby Championship, with three South African teams vying to finish as high up the log as possible, ahead of the quarterfinals in two weeks’ time.
The Stormers could still finish second, while the Bulls and Sharks are jostling for position to see if they’ll be travelling to Cape Town or North to Ireland or even Scotland for the knockout rounds. The Sharks face Irish side Munster on Saturday and they are preparing for a physical showdown.
The Sharks’ place in the quarterfinals of the URC should be a formality, but their up and down form surely cannot be good enough for a team that has all the potential in the world.
After a very strong Champions Cup campaign, that saw them win away in France and thrash Munster in Durban, before falling short to Toulouse, the Sharks have to give a better account of themselves against an opponent they hosted just three weeks ago.
Munster, by all accounts, used their loss at the hands of the Sharks as the catalyst to reawaken their hunger. They went on to beat the Stormers in Cape Town in the URC last weekend.
Sharks’ director of rugby, Neil Powell, knows the Durban side needs to take care of themselves and not rely on other results to go their way.
“If we don’t do ourselves a favour and if we are not successful over Munster then none of those permutations matter so we have to do the job ourselves first before we look at anybody else and wanting anybody else to do us a favour so that was the discussion as well this week it is all about us and us doing ourselves a favour by beating Munster here because if we lose then nothing else matters,” says Powell.
If quarter-final qualification is attained, then either a trip to Ireland, Scotland or Cape Town is on the cards. The Sharks will be on the road for the rest of the tournament. Powell is confident in the Sharks’ potential and made sure to tweak those areas in practice that he felt were holding them back.
“The feeling in the camp is if this team gets it right on the day we can beat most of the team’s home or away so we obviously will keep grafting, we will keep improving in the areas we feel stops us from being successful and we really do believe this team can go all the way if we get it right on the day,” Powell explains.
It will also be Siya Kolisi and Thomas Du Toit’s final home matches for the Sharks and no better way for Durban to see off their heroes than with a positive result.