|Sharks v Sunwolves: Saturday 3.00am (AEST)
at Kings Park, Durban
|Best Bet: Sharks -35.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Sharks By 46+ ($2.80)
The Sharks have what shapes as an easy assignment in front of them to confirm their spot in the Super Rugby finals, hosting the travel-shy Sunwolves in their last regular-season hit-out.
The Sharks have unsurprisingly opted to rest several players, including Tendai Mtawarira. Willie le Roux is still out injured, but Pat Lambie may make a return off the bench.
The Sunwolves are without Shota Horie and Harumichi Tatekawa, which sees Yu Tumara captain the team. In the backline, Mifiposeti Paea returns at centre while Kaito Shigeno and Yuki Yatomi have been rotated.
First meeting between the teams.
The Sharks bounced back from a 37-10 loss to the Lions to account for the Cheetahs 26-10, hanging onto the South African Group wildcard slot in the process. The 8-5-1 Sharks are the best defensive team in the competition and are ranked 14th in attack.
After some promising results before the international break, the Sunwolves have gone down to Waratahs 57-12 at home and the Bulls 50-3 in Pretoria. The last-placed side with a 1-12-1 record, they are ranked 15th in attack and second-last in defence.
Stand-in skipper Yu Tumara needs to take charge from the flyhalf position for the Sunwolves, while Garth April is out to prove he can play a key role for the Sharks in the finals despite the impending return of Pat Lambie.
Stats That Matter
The Sharks are 8-6 against the start in 2016, while the Sunwolves are 6-8 ATS this year. The Sharks are 9-5 at home since the start of last season (6-8 ATS). The Sunwolves are 0-6 on the road in their debut campaign. Four of the Sunwolves’ six away losses were by margins of 27-plus. Home sides are 70-52-3 this season (66-60 against the start). Home favourites are 62-21 overall and 48-34 ATS in 2016.
The Sunwolves continue to leak points at an alarming rate, while they have mustered just 25 points in their last three outings in conceding 173. The Sharks’ competition-best defence will only exacerbate the visitors’ shortcomings. Don’t expect the Sharks’ absences to have too much of an impact as the home side confirms their place in the playoffs in emphatic fashion, breezing past the points start.
The Way It’s Shaping
Sharks by 48
Sharks -35.5 ($1.90)
Sharks By 46+ ($2.80)