Waratahs must sink Sharks in Super D-Day - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Waratahs must sink Sharks in Super D-Day

By Jim Morton 03/05/2009 04:18:24 PM Comments (0)

The NSW Waratahs' Super 14 moment of truth arrives on Saturday with a penultimate round crunch match against the Sharks in Durban.

The Waratahs still control their semi-final destiny thanks to a rugged 18-10 win over the last-placed Cheetahs in Bloemfontein which has them joint fifth on a congested leaderboard.

But the Sharks present a far more formidable challenge.

NSW are locked on 32 competition points with the team that beat them in last year's final, the Crusaders, and the resurgent Brumbies who thumped Queensland 52-13 in Brisbane on Saturday night.

They sit three points behind the fourth-placed Sharks (35), who ended a three-week lull with a crucial 23-15 win over the Highlanders as all top four teams consolidated their play-off chances with round 12 triumphs.

The competition leading Hurricanes (39) sit in prime position for a home final after a 45-27 thumping of the Blues (31), the Chiefs (37) jumped to second with a vital late bonus-point try in their 28-14 win over the Stormers and the Bulls (37) all but ended the Western Force's (30) hopes with a thrilling 32-29 win.

NSW are sweating on the availability of Test winger Lote Tuqiri who suffered a minor knee dislocation in the first half of their two-tries-to-one win, which forced a backline reshuffle which saw Kurtley Beale play fullback.

League recruit Timana Tahu had arguably his best game in the 15-man code starting at outside centre and coach Chris Hickey has a major dilemma how to best structure his backline without Tuqiri.

A leapfrogging win over the Sharks would have the Waratahs well placed for a semi-final berth as they are drawn against the lowly Lions in Johannesburg in the final round.

NSW - who hold a 7-4 record, the same as the attack-minded Chiefs - have been criticised for their conservative, forward-oriented style and have suffered for a lack of four-try bonus points but tried their best to run the Cheetahs ragged.

Finishing precision again let them down, with Hickey demanding more ball-playing patience in their season-defining clash.

"I think that's the area we need to keep working on," he said. "We're creating opportunities and we created plenty (against the Cheetahs), but we just need to finish off a little better."

The Waratahs will have support from Brumbies and Crusaders fans with all three able to jump into the top four with a Sharks loss.

The Chiefs could also become vulnerable with a defeat in their blockbuster home match against the Hurricanes in Hamilton on Saturday.

The Brumbies bounced back brilliantly from their record 56-7 loss to the Hurricanes with a 107-point turnaround against the bumbling, injury-riddled Reds and coach Andy Friend fancies their chances with tough matches against the Blues and Chiefs ahead.

"We played some footy there which was good and there's a lot of belief in what they're about and the skill set they've got and when you've got a group together which we are you can achieve things," he said.

The Force are hanging by their fingernails after losing to the Bulls, needing bonus-point wins over the Stormers in Cape Town and Highlanders at home and other results to go their way.

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