Lions, Sharks and Cheetahs target second straight wins

For the Sharks and Cheetahs only one of them will be able to emerge from the weekend with a win.

The Lions, Sharks and Cheetahs will all be aiming to build momentum, chasing their second successive victories in the Challenge Cup this weekend after all three SA franchises got off to perfect starts in the competition with comfortable wins.

The Lions second stringers clinched a solid 28-12 win over Perpignan in France last week, and after a number of players impressed in the match (including a host of debutants) it will be interesting to see if any of them retain their places in the starting 15 for the clash against Newcastle Falcons on Saturday.

Not a single player from the Lions starting 15 that thumped Dragons at Ellis Park in the United Rugby Championship (URC) a week before, made the trip to France as the Lions rested them while also testing their squad depth. But most of those players should be back in action on home soil this week.

One of the players who will be giving the team management a good headache ahead of the match is rising talent Jordan Hendrikse, who produced a man-of-the-match performance against Perpignan by scoring 23 of the team’s 28 points.

Hendrikse has been unseated as the starting flyhalf over the season so far by regular scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba, who has impressed immensely in the position, and it will be interesting to see who the starting half-back combination will be for the Newcastle game.

Only one winner

For the Sharks and Cheetahs, only one of them will be able to emerge from the weekend with a win as they face each other in Bloemfontein on Sunday.

The Sharks thumped French club Pau 45-5 in Durban, while the Cheetahs eased to a 33-15 win over Italian side Zebre in Parma in their opening matches.

Despite the odds being stacked against them, Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie is excited for the challenge posed by what is expected to be a Springbok laden Sharks team who will be favourites heading into the game.

“They’ve beaten Pau by a big margin and they’ve got all their Springboks back, so they will be a very tough team to take on,” said Fourie.

“It is a big challenge for us to play against a team with a lot of Springboks and the quality they have, but that’s why you want to play in a competition like this. It is to play against very good teams with big names to measure yourselves.”

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