The Sharks host the Jaguares in what is shaping up to be a pulsating Super Rugby encounter at Kings Park on Saturday.
“We needed real bullets fired under real pressure after two warm-up games,” said Sharks defensive coach Omar Mouneimne after the easy win last week. Well, while those low calibre bullets were fired by the Kings, the Jaguares offer a significantly bigger threat.
Both teams showed a willingness to spread the ball wide during their opening encounters and it paid dividends for each franchise.
With four line breaks, Sharks winger Lwazi Mvovo tops the stats in the clean breaks department after the first round win over the hapless Kings. He also earned a try for his efforts.
Mvovo will line up opposite the fleet-footed Santiago Cordero, moved to full-back after having a blinder against the Cheetahs, beating no less than eight defenders during their sensational comeback victory in Bloemfontein.
In total, the Jaguares beat 45 defenders, 17 more than any other team in Round 1, meaning the Sharks better be on their toes defensively come Saturday.
The numbers suggest the hosts will be up to the task, having achieved an impressive 92 percent tackle success rate in Port Elizabeth, but now they face a much sharper attack.
Players to watch: For the Sharks, WIllie Le Roux will be eager to impress the Kings Park-faithful for the first time in Durban. The full-back showed glimpses of his attacking prowess last week and should the game become loose, the Springbok could be devastating, as could flyer Lwazi Mvovo. Look out for captain Marcell Coetzee leading from the front, as per usual.
The visitors will also draw inspiration to talismanic captain Agustín Creevy, who was superb last Friday. The Sharks better be careful about kicking possession away, as Jagurares 15 Joaquin Tuculet is dangerous attack, especially when linking with his wingers. Scrum-half Martin Landajo also proved a handful, so the Sharks will have to keep an eye around the fringes come ruck time.
Team news: JP Pietersen takes Lwazi Mvovo's place out on the wing while Stephan Lewies returns to the Sharks second row after recovering from a long-term injury. Mvovo is unavailable for selection after suffering an ankle injury in the win over the Kings in Round 1.
Jaguares head coach Raúl Pérez has been forced into five changes. Santiago García Botta replaces Lucas Noguera at loosehead prop, while Matías Alemanno comes into the second row to replace the suspended Tomás Lavanini. Santiago Cordero switches from wing to full-back as Matías Orlando, who set up Martín Landajo's memorable try against the Cheetahs, comes into the back three The final change sees Jerónimo De la Fuente drop out through injury as he is replaced by Santiago González Iglesias.
Form: The Sharks will be aiming for a fifth win on the trot for the first time since winning five in a row over the 2013 and 2014 seasons. History is also in their favour, as the three-time finalists have won 20 out of their last 24 home games against opponents outside of South Africa. With three wins in a row in 2016, including their warm-up games, the Sharks are in the ascendancy.
Meanwhile, the Jaguares can draw many positives from erasing the 21-point deficit against the Cheetahs to earn a thrilling win. They showed their popular brand of rugby can bring results. However, the Argentines will need to be better defensively if they want to make it two in a row.
Prediction: If the Jaguares managed to keep their full compliment on the park, this one could go down to the wire. However, the Sharks have a decent record at home and will have the accuracy and discipline to edge out a victory. Sharks by eight.
Previous results: This will be the first match between the two sides.
Sharks: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira (c)
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Garth April, 23 S’bura Sithole
Jaguares: 15 Santiago Cordero, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Santiago González Iglesias, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Rodrigo Báez, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), Santiago García Botta
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Felipe Arregui, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Javier Ortega Desio, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Joaquín Paz, 23 Lucas González Amorosino
Date: Saturday, March 5
Venue: Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
Kick-off: 19:20 local (17:20 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Jaco van Heerden, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Johan Greeff