Sharks look to continue dominance
April 2, 2009
JP Pietersen is a doubt for the Super 14 leaders the Sharks this weekend © Getty Images
It's Round Eight of the Super 14 and as the teams start positioning themselves for the run-up to the playoffs we bring you the latest team news from each of this weekend's match-ups.
The action kicked off on Friday with the Crusaders defeating the Bulls 16-13 in Christchurch to further dent the South African's charge at the top. In Perth, the Reds were blown away 39-7 buy the Force. Younge centre James O'Connor was instrumental, scoring the opener.
The Cheetahs' talismanic skipper Juan Smith returns on the bench against the Brumbies in Bloemfontein on Saturday. He's been out for a month with concussion and replaces Francois Uys on the flank. In the only other change from last week Jongi Nokwe comes onto the wing in the place of Fabian Juries.
Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock returns to the Brumbies' side. He was ruled out of last weekend's loss to the Sharks after sustaining a thigh injury during the side's loss to the Lions a fortnight ago. He resumes his role at outside centre and will be accompanied in the midfield by Tyrone Smith, who starts at inside centre. Gene Fairbanks, who played inside centre against the Sharks, drops to the bench. [Teams]
In the last game of what should be an action-packed weekend the table-topping Sharks welcome the Hurricanes to Kings Park on Saturday. Three points clear at the top and with a game in hand, the tournament's joint-leading try scorer JP Pietersen is coach John Plumtree's biggest injury worry. Pietersen is bracketed at wing with Luzuko Vulindlu, should he not recover in time for the game. In the only other change John Smit and Jannie du Plessis swap positions with Smit reverting to tighthead prop.
Injuries to Scott Waldrom and Hosea Gear have necessitated coach Colin Cooper to call up New Zealand Sevens star Victor Vito for the Hurricanes who had a bye last week. [Teams]
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin