|Sharks v Cheetahs: Sunday 3.10am (AEST)
at Kings Park, Durban
|Best Bet: Sharks 1-12 ($2.70)
Value Bet: Sharks by 6-10 ($5.00)
The Sharks can all but seal their place in the Super Rugby playoffs with a victory over the also-ran Cheetahs this weekend.
Test stars Pat Lambie and Willie le Roux are set to be ruled out of the Sharks’ squad, while the Cheetahs are not expected to make any major changes.
The Sharks have won nine and the Cheetahs seven of the South African rivals’ 16 meetings. The Cheetahs hold a 5-4 advantage in matches played in Durban. Their two clashes last year were shared one apiece, with the Cheetahs scoring a 35-29 upset at Kings Park and the Sharks prevailing 27-10 at Free State Stadium.
Second in the Africa 2 Conference, the Sharks currently hold the South African Group wildcard spot – three points clear of the Bulls. They went down to the group-leading Lions 37-10 last week, however. The Sharks have the best defensive record in the competition, but their attack is ranked just 14th.
The Cheetahs have a 4-9 record this season, with the ninth-best attack and 12th-ranked defence. They edged out the lowly Force 30-29 last weekend.
Garth April shapes as the Sharks’ key figure at flyhalf with Lambie out, and this week he lines up against the Cheetahs’ Fred Zelinga, who booted his side to victory with a late penalty last weekend.
Stats That Matter
The Sharks are 7-6 against the start in 2016, while the Cheetahs are 5-8 ATS this year. The Sharks are 8-5 at home since the start of last season, and just 5-8 ATS. The Cheetahs are 4-11 on the road since the start of 2015 (7-8 ATS). Home sides are 65-48-3 this season (62-55 against the start). Home favourites are 58-20 overall and 45-33 ATS in 2016.
The freewheeling Cheetahs can be a tricky opponent, but the Sharks’ competition-best defence should be able to counter the visitors’ attacking enterprise. Where the Sharks’ points are going to come from is a concern without le Roux and Lambie on deck, but there’s too much at stake for the Durban outfit to stumble in this one. Be wary of the 10-point start, however, with a 1-12 result in favour of the Sharks potentially a safer option.
The Way It’s Shaping
Sharks by 8
Sharks 1-12 ($2.70)
Sharks by 6-10 ($5.00)