Tiebreakers could sink Sharks Rainbow final hopes

Tiebreakers could sink Sharks Rainbow final hopes

No players in SA squad-46 will play in Rainbow Cup final

The Rainbow Cup final on June 19 is the first step by a South African team into Northern Hemisphere competition rugby. However, it is also an anti-climax of sorts, as the South African winner, either the Bulls or the Sharks on Saturday, will be below strength.

And what’s more, the Europe pool’s finalist, Benetton, was decided by a ‘covid four-pointer’ after the withdrawal by their weekend opponents Ospreys.

Benetton were awarded four points for Ospreys withdrawal this weekend, and Munster and Glasgow were therefore denied the opportunity to progress to the final in the run to win the Europe section as they can now no longer catch Benetton on the log..

▲ South Africa’s anti-climax contribution to the final is that their best side will be without players in the recently announced national squad.  None of the players 46 players in the Springbok squad will be released for the Rainbow Cup final against Benetton at their home ground next Saturday

Tiebreakers that could kill Sharks hopes

▲ The Sharks, with 16 log points, have to win Saturday’s the return match at Kings Park with a bonus point and also deny the Bulls, currently with 20 log points, a bonus point.  

Should the Sharks win, even with a bonus point but the Bulls also get a bonus point for scoring four tries or being within seven points of the Sharks winning score, the two teams will be tied at the top of the log on 21 points each.

That will see the Bulls progress to the final by virtue of the competition ruling that log tiebreakers are applied in the following order listed below, and where a Sharks win would bring the wins to four wins apiece. The Bulls, however, presently have a vastly superior points differential of 70 points–

  • number of matches won;
  • the difference between points for and points against;
  • the number of tries scored;
  • the most points scored;
  • the difference between tries for and tries against
  • the fewest red cards received;
  • the fewest yellow cards received.

 Teams for last round of the Rainbow Cup SA

The Bulls, with their string of successes since after the post-lockdown start of competitions although they have only four players judged by the SA coach Jacques Nienaber to be of international standard (Marco van Staden, Trevor Nyakane, captain Duane Vermeulen and Morné Steyn) seem to have a better chance than the Sharks to bring the Rainbow Cup home from the final at the home ground of Benetton.

Three of the chosen four will face the Sharks on Saturday, with their captain Duane Vermeulen lying bed after an ankle operation. Coetzee takes over the captaincy and moves from flank to No 8 in place of injured skipper Vermeulen. Nortje's move to the side of the scrum is a result of the injury to Elrigh Louw, with Marco van Staden covering openside flank.

The rest of the Bulls starting line-up remains unchanged from the one which edged the Stormers 31-27 in Pretoria last weekend. 

Springbok Nizaam Carr and Junior Springbok Muller Uys have received call ups to take the places of Swanepoel and Van Staden on the bench respectively. 

The Sharks will have to make the trip to Europe without nine players, including two props, six backline players and Springbok captain Siya Kolisi:  Thomas du Toit, Ox Nché, Kolisi, Sanele Nohamba, Lukhanyo Am, Aphelele Fassi, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi and Yaw Penxe.

Of the above, Fassie, captain Am, Mapimpi and Kolisi will face the Bulls on Saturday, with the bench to be finalised on Friday because of various injuries.

The team shows a number of changes from the side that beat the Lions last week. Skipper Lukhanyo Am replaces Werner Kok at outside centre, Curwin Bosch replaces Manie Libbok at flyhalf,  and Fassi returns at fullback with Anthony Volmink moving to wing in place of Yaw Penxe; and in the pack,

Thembelani Bholi replaces last week's captain Henco Venter at blindside flank, while national skipper Siya Kolisi is back at No 6 in place of James Venter.

Khutha Mchunu moves to tighthead prop in place of Wiehahn Herbst, and Khwezi Mona starts at loosehead.

Teams for Kings Park (kick-off 18:15)

Sharks
Aphelele Fassi, Anthony Volmink, Lukhanyo Am (capt.), Marius Louw, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Jaden Hendrikse, Phepsi Buthelezi, Thembelani Bholi, Siya Kolisi, Hyron Andrews, JJ van der Mescht, Khutha Mchunu, Kerron van Vuuren, Khwezi Mona. Replacements: To be confirmed.
Bulls
15 David Kriel, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Marcell Coetzee (capt.), 7 Ruan Nortje, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16 Schalk Erasmus, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Muller Uys, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Gio Aplon.