Currie Cup Round 7: Western Province v Sharks Preview

Western Province tackle the Sharks this weekend in round 7 of the Currie Cup competition, 26 August 2017.

DHL Newlands this weekend sees a battle between second and third, as the Sharks prepare an attack on Western Province. The hosts will head into a bye next week and would love to build on their 39-3 demolition of the Golden Lions with a similarly sparkling display over the Durbanites. The Sharks on the other hand, will want maximum points out of this one before they host the defending champion Cheetahs on September 2nd.
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Western Province v Sharks | 26 August 15h00 |DHL Newlands, Cape Town

To Win (80 min)
Western Province | Draw | Sharks
Western Province (-3.5) 9/10 | Sharks (+3.5) 9/10 Please note - expected odds

Western Province
Province certainly put on one hell-of-a-show this Saturday. The expansive game that is the brainchild of Robbie Fleck seems to be working wonders for the Western union at the moment while, most importantly, their defence hasn’t been neglected in the slightest. Perhaps the most ridiculous Currie Cup start from round-six, much like the first-half of Bledisloe-1 in the case of the All Blacks, was that WP had basically no possession or territory to work with whatsoever. The fact that they had 34% possession and 38% territory and still managed to score six-tries, is testament to their counter-attacking ability.

Dillyn Leyds had an imperious game on the left wing, the 24-year-old seemingly broke the Lions’ defensive line at will, and the majority of Province’s tries were a direct result of his impact on the game. With a few more performances like that, Bok coach Allister Coetzee will have no choice but to recall the man to his Rugby Championship squad.

The Sharks will be fresh off a bye for this one and will test the WP defence with their big ball-carriers. Their tighter defence will also inhibit the hosts’ expansive play, and they will need to resort to a much more structured approach if they are to see off Robert du Preez’s men this weekend.

The Durbanites are looking very good this term. They’ve conceded the least amount of points (101) in the competition and crucially (very unlike what we have come to expect from the Sharks of late) their attacking game has not been hung out to dry as a consequence. Rob du Preez is slowly but surely implementing a much more measured, well-rounded game into the Sharks setup and this will pay huge dividends in the long term – especially looking ahead to Super Rugby.

Having had the past weekend off, the Sharks will offer no excuses when they travel to the Cape ahead of Saturday’s encounter. They have a near full-strength squad to call upon, and their superior multi-faceted game will challenge, if not top that of their hosts. Expect likes of Jacques Vermeulen, Thomas du Toit and Tyler Paul will grind down their opponents, and limit the space that their attack is so reliant upon.

Verdict: Sharks (+3.5) 9/10Please note - expected odds
The loss of Jano Vermaak to the Springboks will severely dent the hosts’ hopes this weekend, who rely heavily upon the diminutive scrumhalf to speed up their game. I’m expecting the Sharks to outmuscle their opponents, and take a win away from the Cape.

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