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Super Rugby: Sharks v Reds match preview
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The Sharks' revival under Jake White faces a stern examination when they host the Reds in Durban on Saturday.
White's troops head into this clash unbeaten after three matches so far and were sitting at the top of the table at the start of the round.
The Sharks are also amongst the best attacking teams in the tournament, securing try-scoring bonus-points in two of their three matches so far.
The Reds will be no pushovers, however. The 2011 champions impressed in beating the Brumbies in their season opener but suffered a humiliating defeat to the Waratahs before they returned to winning ways against the Cheetahs and earned up a bonus-point in the process.
White expects a tough encounter against Richard Graham's troops.
"There is no doubt that the Reds have a lot of experience," he said.
"They've won the competition and a lot of their current players were in that winning team. So they understand what it takes to win and they travel quite well as a group."
The former Springbok boss hopes his side continue their strong start to 2014.
"We start the competition with a number of home games which is great, and we wanted to get some momentum in the competition," added White.
"Everyone knows the guys have worked hard, had a tough pre-season and put the hard yards. The guys have had game time and the whole squad is starting to feel that they're contributing to where we are."
The Reds will rely heavily on Will Genia and Quade Cooper, who are one of the most experienced halfback duos in the tournament, to unlock the Sharks' defence.
They are not a two-man show, however, and do have other players who could also do damage with ball in hand, including young centre Chris Feauai-Sautia, who scored a brace of tries in last weekend's win over the Cheetahs.
Sharks: 15 Marais, 14 Pietersen, 13 Sithole, 12 Steyn, 11 Mvovo, 10 Lambie, 9 Reinach, 1 Mtawarira, 2 B du Plessis, 3 J du Plessis, 4 Bresler, 5 Lewies, 6 Coetzee, 7 Alberts, 8 Kankowski.
Replacements: 16 Cooper, 17 Chadwick, 18 Adriaanse, 19 TBC, 20 Mtembu, 21 McLeod, 22 Williams, 23 van Tonder
Reds: 15 Toua, 14 Davies, 13 Feauai-Sautia, 12 Harris, 11 Turner, 10 Cooper, 9 Genia, 1 Slipper, 2 Fainga'a, 3 Holmes, 4 Simmons, 5 Horwill, 6 Quirk, 7 Gill, 8 Schatz.
Replacements: 16 Hanson, 17 Daley, 18 Owen, 19 O'Donoghue, 20 Robinson, 21 Frisby, 22 Tapuai, 23 Shipperley.
You can see all the action from Durban as the Sharks take on the Reds live on Sky Sports 2HD from 3.05pm on Saturday.
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|Friday 13th February|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Reds|
|17:10||Lions vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 14th February|
|06:35||Blues vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Sharks vs Cheetahs|
|17:05||Bulls vs Stormers|
|Sunday 15th February|
|06:05||Waratahs vs Western Force|
|Friday 20th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Brumbies|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs|
|17:10||Bulls vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 21st February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Reds vs Western Force|
|15:05||Stormers vs Blues|
|17:10||Sharks vs Lions|
|Friday 27th February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Reds|
|11:00||Western Force vs Hurricanes|
|17:10||Cheetahs vs Blues|
|Saturday 28th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies|
|15:05||Bulls vs Sharks|
|17:10||Lions vs Stormers|
|Friday 6th March|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Highlanders|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Western Force|
|Saturday 7th March|
|06:35||Blues vs Lions|
|08:40||Reds vs Waratahs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com