The Coastal Sharks are to look to tighten their grip as Super Rugby pacesetters in this weekend’s South African derby against the Western Stormers.
Jake White’s Durban-based team head into their final three games leading by five points and on a high after their successful Australasian tour as they chase their first Super Rugby title.
The Sharks won three of their four tour games, including a first-ever win over seven-time champions the Canterbury Crusaders in Christchurch, and are aiming to finish top and with it home advantage all the way through the Super Rugby playoffs.
Super Rugby goes into a three-week international break after this weekend and the Sharks are five points clear of the New South Wales Waratahs, although the Sydney-based outfit have a game in hand.
The pressure will be on the Waratahs to beat back-to-back champions the Waikato Chiefs in New Zealand this weekend to keep in touch with the Sharks.
“We got a lot of confidence from the tour, where we were the first South African side to win overseas this season,” Sharks center Paul Jordaan said.
“The Crusaders win helped us grow a lot as a team and we definitely need to build on that, but the match against the Stormers will be a tough game,” he added.
“I think we’ve set ourselves up nicely throughout the season and we just need to stay composed and work harder to hopefully keep our spot,” he added.
The Sharks have lost only one of their past six home games, against the Stormers, who are on the up after winning three of their past four matches.
The Chiefs, looking to atone after last weekend’s 45-8 walloping by the Wellington Hurricanes, have All Black flyhalf Aaron Cruden back to face the Waratahs in New Plymouth.
“It will be how we bounce back that will be the test of the character of this group,” coach Dave Rennie said. “With only two points separating the top four teams in the New Zealand conference, every game is vital and this stems as season-defining.”
The Waratahs are chasing their first Super Rugby win in New Zealand since 2010, but have beaten the Chiefs in four of their past five meetings.
“Not many people will think we can get it done over there, so we’ve got to make sure that we think we can do it, and try and get the job done the best we can,” Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said.
Kieran Read is back to lead the Crusaders, after missing six weeks with the effects of concussion he suffered against the Chiefs on April 19.
The Crusaders, who lead the New Zealand conference and are third overall, take on Australia’s Western Force in Christchurch today.
“We are up against another very tough team this week and this win is so important for both of us,” Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said.
The Force are likely to need two wins from their final four games to secure a top-six berth.
It is an important game for the ACT Brumbies against the Melbourne Rebels in Canberra tomorrow, after losing both their South African tour matches, against the Central Cheetahs and the Northern Bulls.
The Brumbies have slumped from second to outside the top-six play-off positions in seventh spot.
“We have to win every game from here,” coach Stephen Larkham said. “There’s a little more pressure on us as our season is on the line, but I like to think we’ve got a stronger urge to win.”
The Otago Highlanders and the Hurricanes have crucial away games this weekend to stay in the top six.
The Highlanders are to play bottom team the Queensland Reds, while the Hurricanes face the Blues in Auckland.
In the remaining game, the Golden Lions are at home to the Bulls in Johannesburg, while the Cheetahs have a bye.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017