Cape Town – It was JP Pietersen’s incisive line-break that set-up the match-winning try for the Sharks against the Stormers is Cape Town on Saturday – a result that the 29-year-old says has gone a long way towards restoring the pride in Durban.
The Sharks, after having finished a disappointing 11th overall in 2015, are all-of-a-sudden favourites to win the South African group.
“For the team it was huge … for our character it was a huge boost,” Pietersen said of the 18-13 win at Newlands.
“We go down to Cape Town and nobody gives us a chance, nobody thought we could win.
“What it means for us is to get the pride back into the Sharks jersey and also to give pride back to the fans that have been loyal to us.”
The Sharks are now probably slight favourites to beat the Bulls at Loftus this weekend, but Pietersen has been playing Super Rugby long enough to know not to get carried away.
“Last week we were underdogs and now everybody is saying we can win the conference,” he said.
“We don’t get ahead of ourselves. We stay focused on our plan and what we want to achieve which is getting better every week.
“Pretoria is not the easiest place to play rugby … they’ve got a very proud history.
“After a great win against the Stormers it’s easy to fall over and not pitch up on Friday. The Bulls have had a break … they’re fresh and ready to go so it’s a massive task for us to go to Pretoria and to perform.”
Kick-off on Friday is at 19:10.
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jesse Kriel
15. Willie le Roux, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Joe Pietersen, 9. Michael Claassens, 8. Daniel du Preez, 7. Philip van der Walt, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Lourens Adriaanse, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Tendai Mtawarira (captain)
Substitutes: 16. Franco Marais, 17. Juan Schoeman, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Hyron Andrews, 20. Keegan Daniel, 21. Cobus Reinach, 22. Garth April, 23. Odwa Ndungane