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Expect fireworks when two of the heavyweights of the South African game, the Sharks and Stormers, face off in their derby in Durban on Saturday.

Both these teams will be desperate for victory after registering some unflattering results in recent weeks.

The Sharks suffered a humiliating 40-10 defeat to the Bulls in Durban last weekend – a result which their coach Robert du Preez described as an embarrassment.

The Stormers had a bye last weekend but fared little better in their previous match, against the Lions in Johannesburg in Round Eight, as they were on the receiving end of a 52-31 drubbing against the 2017 Super Rugby finalists.

The Sharks will be quietly confident of returning to winning ways as they have dominated this fixture in recent years and won their last three games against the Stormers – the last and only time they won more against them was a five-game streak from 2006 to 2010.

Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am admits they will look to turn matters around against their Cape rivals following that loss to the Bulls last week.

“This game could be our season-changer, we’re looking to regain our confidence and consistency in this match,” he said.

“But there are no easy games and we’ll need to bring our A-game on Saturday.”

Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said his side are determined to get back to winning ways on Saturday after a much-needed bye.

“The break was good for the squad from both a mental and physical perspective and we returned refreshed this week, ready to take on the second half of the campaign,” he explained.

“It is great to have some players returning from injury and it has been a good week of training so we are looking forward to the weekend.”

The last time these teams met: These sides faced off in a Round 14 encounter in Durban last year and the Sharks claimed a 22-10 victory. The home side outscored the Stormers three tries to one with Jean Deysel, Stephan Lewies and Sbu Nkosi scoring the Sharks’ tries while SP Marais dotted down for the visitors. Garth April added the Sharks’ other points courtesy of two conversions and a penalty and Marais also slotted a penalty and a conversion for the Stormers.

Players to watch:

For Sharks: Although the Sharks have been very inconsistent this year, one player who has impressed regularly is Springbok flanker Jean-Luc du Preez, who has shone on attack and defence. Du Preez’s prowess with ball in hand has been particularly impressive and he is the player who has made the most offloads (16) in the competition at this stage of the season.

For Stormers: Springbok centre Damian de Allende has been a vital cog in the Stormers machine this year, especially on attack where he has done well on a consistent basis. The 26-year-old is one of the tournament’s leading attackers and has made the second most carries (97), beaten the third most defenders (38) and is in joint ninth place for clean breaks in the competition. If he builds up a head of steam, he could prove a handful for the Sharks’ defenders.

Team news: Sharks head coach Robert du Preez has made three changes to his starting XV after last weekend’s defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria. Du Preez has brought Makazole Mapimpi in for Lwazi Mvovo on the left wing while Cameron Wright replaces Louis Schreuder at scrum-half in the two changes to the back-line.

Daniel du Preez joins his twin Jean-Luc in the loose trio, taking over from Tera Mtembu at number eight in the only alteration amongst the forwards.

Meanwhile, Sikhumbuzo Notshe will make his first start of the Super Rugby season for the Stormers for this fixture. The 24-year-old will be at number eight in the only change to the Stormers pack for the coastal derby at Kings Park.

There are two changes to the back-line with Craig Barry starting on the wing and Dillyn Leyds shifting to full-back, while a fit-again Dewaldt Duvenage replaces the injured Jano Vermaak at scrum-half.

Utility back JJ Engelbrecht also returns from injury to take his place among the replacements.

Form: Both these sides have battled to get going this season. The Sharks have won just two matches so far – against the Sunwolves and Blues. They also drew at home with the Waratahs and suffered defeats to the Lions, Brumbies, Melbourne Rebels, Hurricanes and Bulls.

The Stormers beat the Jaguares in Cape Town in their season opener before heading on their Australasian tour where they lost all three their matches – against the Waratahs, Crusaders and Highlanders. They bounced back with home victories against the Blues and Reds but suffered defeats to the Bulls and Lions in their recent matches.

Prediction: This should be an entertaining encounter between two evenly matched sides. Home ground advantage will be crucial and should swing things in the Sharks’ favour. Sharks to win by seven points.


The teams:

Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (c), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Juan Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Lwazi Mvovo

Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Craig Barry, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Kobus van Dyk, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 SP Marais, 23 JJ Engelbrecht

Date: Saturday, April 21
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 17:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)

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