The number six will be of significance when the Western Force host The Sharks in their final Vodacom Super Rugby tour match of 2013 at the NIB Stadium in Perth on Friday afternoon (SA time).
The Sharks will be aiming for their sixth consecutive victory over the Western Australians, while at the same time trying to avoid a sixth successive defeat this season.
It’s also six years ago that the Force won their first – and to date only – match against The Sharks. In 2007, the team from Perth not only beat the KwaZulu-Natalians at home, but also upset the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria, making them the only team to beat both finalists from that season during the league phase of the competition.
Only three Sharks players who will feature on Friday were part of their team that lost in Perth in 2007 – JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane both started on the wing that day, while Keegan Daniel was on the bench.
Forward four years, to 2011, the last time The Sharks played in Perth. They bossed the Force around on that day and won easily, by 39-12. This time around, though, it won’t be as easy for John Plumtree and his team.
The Sharks are with their backs to the wall, which makes them a dangerous opponent, as they will be hell bent on getting out of their current rut.
Plumtree realises it will be a tough ask against a Force team that has only been given one proper beating thus far this season, when they lost 41-7 to the Brumbies in Round 11. Last week the Western Australians lost by one point against the defending champion Chiefs in New Zealand (21-22), a week before that they drew 11-11 with the 2011 champions, the Reds, in Perth, where they beat the seven-time champion Crusaders by 16-14 a month ago.
“They beat the Crusaders and lost by only one point to the Chiefs, the defending champions,” said Plumtree of the Force.
“With those results, they will have some belief going into this game. It’s going to be a tough game – they are a side that’s clearly working very hard for each other and we know it is going to be a really tough task from our side.”
The teams are:
The Sharks: Riaan Viljoen, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo, Pat Lambie, Charl McLeod, Keegan Daniel (captain), Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Franco van der Merwe, Anton Bresler, Jannie du Plessis, Kyle Cooper, JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: Monde Hadebe, Wiehahn Herbst, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Derick Minnie / Lubabalo Mtembu, Jean Deysel, Tian Meyer, Piet Lindeque.
Force v Sharks
Date: Friday, 17 May
SA Time: 13h45
Venue: NIB Stadium, Perth
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Assistant referees: Ian Smith (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)