Cell C Sharks Favourites To Beat A Limping Benetton


The 10th placed Cell C Sharks will have their sights on moving up the table when they meet Benetton at Stadio Monigo today @ 17h05 , as they attempt to build on their victory against the Vodacom Bulls two weekends ago. It won’t be easy though as the Italians have done well this season and occupy the ninth spot on the log.

Apart from the test presented by playing in vastly different conditions to that which the teams have been experiencing at home this year, it will also give them a good taste of what to expect when their overseas rivals tour South Africa after next week’s short break.

The Sharks will seek to strike while the iron is hot with Benetton missing a whopping 22 frontline players. Based on that alone, you’d expect a Springbok-laden Sharks side to be too strong for the depleted Italian outfit.

Conditions will be favourable for running rugby, however, the Sharks will be well-served to follow the Warriors’ direct approach, even if only initially. The smart play will be to soften up the hosts up front, i.e. to earn the right to go wide and then unleash their star-studded backline.

Benetton has had a poor run in the United Rugby Championship, recording a solitary victory since the end of November.

But their only loss at home in any competition since March was against the Ospreys earlier this term and they have only tasted defeat once in nine previous encounters against South African opponents in the URC.

Thomas Gallo, Benetton caoch said: "They are a physically very tough team.

"They have several players in the squad who play with the Springboks.

"For us, from this point of view it will be thrilling to meet players of this calibre, even if we know it will be very tough.

"I believe that the defence will be the main aspect in which we will have to shine."

The Cell C Sharks have left the warm climate of Durban and headed north to chilly Treviso in Italy.

This match offers the Durbanites the opportunity to get stuck into overseas opposition once more following a period of South African derbies over the last few months. With the tournament starting to hot up and the resumption of games against international teams, the Cell C Sharks will embrace the challenge to lay a marker in the competition.

Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt has largely stuck with the same team that defeated the Vodacom Bulls in their last outing for Saturday’s 5.05pm clash, making just two changes to the starting line-up.

Ruben van Heerden comes in for Hyron Andrews (concussion) in the second row, opening the door for Le Roux Roets to come into the match 23 where he is named to play off the bench.

The second change sees Curwin Bosch starting at flyhalf, with Argentine international Tito Bonilla named amongst the replacements

Following the sublime form he showed for the Cell C Sharks in their Carling Currie Cup victory over the Sigma Lions, scrumhalf Cameron Wright has been called into the VURC squad and rewarded with a place on the bench. He replaces Grant Williams who is, unfortunately, serving a suspension and did not tour.

Weather: 11° Celsius, sunny with a moderate north-westerly wind.
Prediction: Cell C Sharks by 12.

Benetton: 15. Tommy Bell, 14. Tommaso Benvenuti, 13. Joaquin Riera, 12. Filippo Drago, 11. Rhyno Smith, 10. Tomas Albornoz, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage (c), 8. Lorenzo Cannone, 7. Alessandro Izekor, 6. Matteo Meggiato, 5. Carl Wegner, 4. Nicola Piantella, 3. Simone Ferrari, 2. Corniel Els, 1. Federico Zani. Replacements: 16. Tomas Baravalle, 17. Matteo Drudi, 18. Nahuel Tetaz, 19. Thomas Gallo, 20. Yaree Fantini, 21. Luca Petrozzi, 22. Luca Sperandio, 23. Andries Coetzee.

Cell C Sharks: 15. Aphelele Fassi, 14. Sibusiso Nkosi, 13. Lukhanyo Am (c), 12. Marius Louw, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 10. Curwin Bosch, 9. Jaden Hendrikse, 8. Phepsi Buthelezi, 7. Henco Venter, 6. Siyamthanda Kolisi, 5. Gerbrandt Grobler, 4. Ruben van Heerden, 3. Thomas du Toit, 2. Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1. Retshegofaditswe Nché. Replacements: 16. Kerron van Vuuren, 17. Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18. Khutha Mchunu, 19. Le Roux Roets, 20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21. Cameron Wright, 22. Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 23. Werner Kok.