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Sharks v Stormers: Teams
At Absa Stadium, Saturday May 8, kick-off 6.10 BST
The Stormers will be without Springbok winger Bryan Habana for their Super 14 showdown against the Sharks on Saturday due to injury.
The South Africa winger bruised his ribs during the 42-14 win over the Crusaders last week and was declared unfit today after still experiencing pain at training.
His omission is the only change to the side for the clash in Durban, with Tim Whitehead in the starting XV instead.
It is the only change made by coach Allister Coetzee, who is also boosted by the return to fitness of full-back Joe Pietersen - named in the match 22 for the first time in over a month.
The Cape Town franchise are currently second in the table, five points behind the Bulls, but re involved in a tight race for a top-two finish, which will secure them a home semi-final.
"I think it's an important game and that was my whole talk even last week," Coetzee said.
"You must forget about the external factors like log points, semi-finals, the Bulls, the ref, the only thing that matters is to make sure that we win on the weekend.
"It's crucial and we have to make sure we get the things on the field right, and the more you win the more you open the door wider and then when you find yourself in the semi-finals then you can revisit your goals.
"At this point in time it's the Sharks, and it's one of those local derbies that are going to be hard and it's going to be tough and a physical encounter."
At Absa Stadium, Saturday May 8, kick-off 6.10pm BST
Sharks coach John Plumtree has relegated fly-half Andy Goode to the bench ahead of Saturday's derby clash.
Elsewhere, the back-line remains unchanged as Rory Kockott returns at scrum-half and Ruan Pienaar shifts outside one position to number ten.
Ryan Kankowski will start this week after coming off the bench following a finger injury which kept him out of action for two weeks and he adds an exciting dimension to a powerful loose forward trio complimented by Willem Alberts and Jean Deysel on the flanks.
This match marks Ryan Kankowski's milestone achievement of 50 caps in Super Rugby, having made his debut back in 2007 (against the Bulls). With 44 Currie Cup appearances for The Sharks, the rangy number eight is closing in on 100 games for The Sharks in all competitions.
In the final change to the starting line-up, the loss of Johann Muller means Alistair Hargreaves starts alongside the hard-working Steven Sykes while the front-row trio of Jannie du Plessis, captain John Smit and Tendai Mtawarira remains unchanged from last week.
"In 2007, we went down there (to Cape Town) and were top of the pile then while they were where we are now," said Plumtree, before citing that discpline will be key against the Super 14's second-placed franchise.
"They weren't going to do us any favours that day but we were too good for them. They'll know it's going to be a tough contest up here, we'll give it a go.
"We are going to have to be well-disciplined with the referee (Stuart Dickinson).
"Especially at the breakdown where he hurt the Crusaders last week. Our discipline needs to be very good and we have to make sure we need to listen to him. The scrummaging is going to be a big area of interest, we will have to be lily-white there."
Sharks: 15 P Lambie, 14 O Ndungane, 13 S Terblanche, 12 R Swanepoel, 11 L Mvovo, 10 R Pienaar, 9 R Kockott, 8 R Kankowski, 7 W Alberts, 6 J Deysel, 5 A Hargreaves, 4 S Sykes, 3 J du Plessis, 2 J Smit (capt), 1 T Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 C Burden, 17 P Cilliers, 18 W Steenkamp, 19 K Daniel, 20 J Botes, 21 A Goode, 22 A Strauss.
Stormers: 15 G Aplon; 14 S Naqelevuki, 13 J Fourie, 12 J de Jongh, 11 T Whitehead; 10 P Grant, 9 D Duvenage; 1 JD Moller, 2 T Liebenberg, 3 B Harris, 4 A Fondse, 5 A Bekker, 6 S Burger, 7 F Louw, 8 D Vermeulen.
Replacements: 16 D Fourie, 17 E Guinazu, 18 A Van Zyl, 19 P Louw, 20 R Januarie, 21 W De Waal, 22 J Pietersen.
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|Melbourne Rebels 28 - 38 Waratahs|
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Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com