Chiefs to put bite on travel-weary Sharks
The Sharks could be excused for not knowing if they are coming or going heading into this Saturday’s Super Rugby showdown with the Chiefs.
By the time they take the bus trip from Auckland to Hamilton late in the week the Durban-based franchise will have clocked up around 40,000km in travel in less than a fortnight.
Their itinerary over that time roughly goes like this: Durban-Johannesburg-Sydney-Brisbane-Sydney-Johannesburg-Cape Town-Johannesburg- Sydney-Auckland-Hamilton.
It may be handy for an end-of-season trip paid for by frequent flyer miles but it hardly augers well for a championship final against a team hungry for a maiden title on home turf.
The Sharks ($3.20) have done spectacularly well to come from sixth to get this far and also have the carrot of a first title but you can’t help but feel this is one trip too many against the Chiefs ($1.37).
Having already beaten the Sharks 18-12 in Durban this season, there’ll be few fears playing at home.
The Tawera Kerr-Barlow-Aaron Cruden half-flyhalf combination has been superb this season and with the line-busting runs and offloads from Sonny Bill Williams the visitors will have their hands full.
The Sharks bring with them an outstanding backrow, a standout hooker in Bismarck du Plessis and no lack of finishing through JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo.
After such a brutal schedule the Sharks don’t want to be chasing the game and will look to put on some tries early through the scheming hands of Frederic Michalak.
Some in play betting could be the order of the day—the Chiefs will ease out if they fall behind but at home must be fancied to finish off strongly.
While the Sharks showed just how tenacious they can be in defence against the Reds and Stormers the Chiefs proved to be equally as miserly against the Crusaders to whom they let in just one try last week.
Save for producing sweet soul singer Kimbra, Hamilton isn’t exactly famous for too much. Come Saturday night they should be able to add a Super Rugby title winning team to that brief list.1,609 views