The Sharks 30-17 win over the defending champion Reds in Brisbane ensured that the men from Durban (the sixth placed wildcard qualifiers) have now travelled back to South Africa to take on the Stormers at DHL Newlands in Cape Town for the Super Rugby Semi-Finals.
The DHL Stormers, top-of-the-table finishers and South African Conference champions, had a break during the first week of the Super Rugby Finals Series, and will now welcome the Sharks in a blockbuster derby in the Republic.
With the Bulls the pre-eminent team in South Africa with three titles, this weekend represents a wonderful opportunity for the Stormers and Sharks to emerge from their shadow, and look to become the second franchise from the Republic to lift a Super Rugby trophy.
The Sharks, who have won four of their last six on the road, are now in their eighth Super Rugby Finals Series, the most of any South African team, and will be bidding to reach their fourth decider, having lost in 1996 (v Reds), 2001 (v Brumbies) and 2007 (v Bulls) in those season’s Super Rugby Finals.
For the DHL Stormers, this match is a big test to see if one of the most consistent teams in Super Rugby over recent years can go all the way – with the Cape Town based side finishing second (2010), second (2011) and first (2012) after the regular season in each of these years.
For the Sharks to deny the Stormers a Super Rugby Final, they will need to become the first team this season to win at DHL Newlands, with the South African Conference champions winning eight from eight there, including a round two 15-12 win over this weekend’s visitors.
Overall the two teams have an even ledger, with the Stormers having won nine matches to the Sharks eight over 17 encounters – and while the home team has won three of the last four, the Sharks have won two of the last four in Cape Town.
Saturday, 28 July, 2012
Stormers v Sharks
DHL Newlands Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa
Kick-off (1705 local, 1505 GMT, Sun 29 Jul 0305 NZT, Sun 29 Jul 0105 NSW/ACT, 1705 SAT)
Referee Steve Walsh
AR Jaco Peyper
AR Marius Jonker
TMO Shaun Veldsman
HEAD TO HEAD:
Played 17: Stormers 9, Sharks 8
Points aggregate: Stormers 374, Sharks 341
Tries aggregate: Stormers 42, Sharks 36
Last match: Sharks 25 – 20 Stormers @ Mr Price King’s Park (2012SR, RD14)
Record in Cape Town: Played 8, Stormers 5, Sharks 3
Record in Super Rugby Finals Series – MAIDEN MATCH
Stormers 2012 Record – Played 16, Won 14, Lost 2
350 PF (12th overall), 254 PA (1st overall), 28 tries (15th overall)
Sharks 2012 Record – Played 16, Won 10, Lost 6
436 PF (5th overall), 348 PA (5th overall), 47 tries (3rd equal)
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Deon Fourie, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Frans Malherbe, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Don Armand, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Odwa Ndungane, 22 Riaan Viljoen.