Familiarity the key element for Sharks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Familiarity the key element for Sharks

By Daniel Gilhooly 03/04/2009 12:14:53 PM Comments (0)

The familiarity factor weighs against the Hurricanes as they prepare for a Super 14 showdown battle of the heavyweights against the Sharks in Durban early on Sunday morning.

Two teams rated by many the best prospects in New Zealand and South Africa respectively before the competition kicked off, both are on track for the playoffs.

The Sharks are deserved leaders, having played consistently well employing a fairly straightforward style while the fifth-placed Hurricanes have run hot and cold.

Yet they sit just six points behind their opponents with a game in hand.

If any game shapes as a forward grind it could be this one, with both sides naming two props on the bench in readiness for a venue often blighted by sapping humidity.

The Sharks know well how to handle such conditions, helping explain why they have won 19 of their last 21 games at ABSA Stadium.

Also to their advantage this week is coach John Plumtree and his assistant Chris Boyd's knowledge of New Zealand rugby and the Hurricanes' style.

The two New Zealanders were at the helm as recently as Wellington's 2006 Air NZ Cup campaign and several of that squad remain key Hurricanes figures.

And Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper admitted his counterparts would have a degree of insight.

"There's are changes in the players from three, four years ago but they'll certainly have an edge because they've coached a number of our guys," Cooper said.

Boyd, who spent years in the Wellington club scene, admitted the Hurricanes would bring a game far different from the ACT Brumbies, who the Sharks clobbered 35-14 last week.

"I suspect when (the Hurricanes) looked at their tour, they would probably have said this was their test match," Boyd said on the Sharks website.

"They play a lot of football and the sides who are doing that are having mixed fortunes, there are pluses and minus to that with the ELVs.

"The Hurricanes will be more competitive at the breakdown, that will be a fairly big competition.

"Their game is based on fast ball and width, they're good at that, so we will look to be more clinical."

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