Cell C Sharks Set To Bounce Back Against Ospreys Tonight

 

The weekend’s exciting Vodacom United Rugby Championship ninth-round action once more will see all four South African sides hosting Welsh opposition, starting with Friday evening’s clash in Durban between the Cell C Sharks and Ospreys, which kicks off at 19h10 (SA Time).

Last weekend’s 35-0 defeat in Durban to Cardiff have seen the KwaZulu-Natalians slip to 12th position on the log, while the Ospreys are two places lower on the standings.

The Cell C Sharks, whose head coach Sean Everitt stepped down early in the week, with Director of Rugby Neil Powell taking the reins, have lost their last two Vodacom URC fixtures and have not lost three in a row since October 2021, so they will be eager to redeem themselves.

They faced Welsh opposition on six previous occasions and both of their defeats during that time were to Cardiff. Meanwhile, the Ospreys’ only win in their last nine outings was a 32-17 home triumph over the Glasgow Warriors at the start of October.

Ospreys come into this match under pressure, having won just once in their eight league matches to date, and arrive in Durban off the back of four losses and a draw from their last five fixtures.

Prediction: Cell C Sharks by 15

The Cell C Sharks have welcomed back a number of returning Springboks. They will be looking for another big boost from their returning Springboks who have brought plenty of spirit and morale back from Europe, following their outstanding 27-13 victory over England on the weekend.

Previously away on Castle Lager Rugby Championship duty, their return to the Cell C Sharks produced an emphatic message of intent, and the Boks are expected to have the same impact following the Autumn Rugby Internationals.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and second rower Eben Etzebeth have both carried a heavy load for the national team and haven’t been included, but Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell has named Ox Nche and Bongi Mbonambi in the front row, while Jaden Hendrikse and Curwin Bosch, back from the Boks and injury respectively, form an exciting halfback pairing.

Makazole Mapimpi has also returned to the club and has been named on the wing.

In other changes, Vincent Tshituka moves from flank to lock with Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Jeandre Labuschagne and Phepsi Buthelezi forming a formidable back row. Buthelezi will captain the side.

Ben Tapuai is back in the starting line-up and the Australian international will partner Francois Venter – himself an international – in the midfield, with Boeta Chamberlain slotting in at fullback.

Rhys Webb is set to captain the Ospreys, with backrower Will Hickey set to make his second start in succession for the Ospreys. Hickey made 15 tackles last week against the Vodacom Bulls without missing one.

Keelan Giles lines up on the wing and is one of just four players in the BKT URC to have made 8+ line breaks this season.

Attack Coach Richard Fussell said: “We’re expecting a reaction from the Cell C Sharks after the Cardiff game. Whether it’s a change on the field or an attitude change from them, they’re going to come out all guns blazing. But we’re going to focus on ourselves, as we showed against the Bulls, when we get ourselves right we can be a formidable outfit.”

Teams:

Cell C Sharks: 15. Boeta Chamberlain, 14. . Marnus Potgieter, 14. Francois Venter, 12. Ben Tapuai, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 10. Curwin Bosch, 9. Jaden Hendrikse, 8. Phepsi Buthelezi (c), 7. Jeandre Labuschagne, 6. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5. Gerbrandt Grobler, 4. Vincent Tshituka, 3. Carlu Sadie, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. Ox Nche. Replacements: 16. Dan Jooste, 17. Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18. Khutha Mchunu, 19. Hyron Andrews, 20. James Venter, 21. Grant Williams, 22. Nevaldo Fleurs, 23. Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

Ospreys: 15. Max Nagy, 14. Luke Morgan, 13. Michael Collins, 12. Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 11. Keelan Giles, 10. Jack Walsh, 9. Rhys Webb (c), 8. Morgan Morris, 7. Will Hickey, 6. Ethan Roots, 5. Huw Sutton, 4. Bradley Davies, 3. Tom Botha, 2. Sam Parry, 1. Rhys Henry. Replacements: 16. Scott Baldwin, 17. Garyn Phillips, 18. Ben Warren, 19. Jack Regan, 20. Harri Deaves, 21. Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22. Luke Scully, 23. Cai Evans.