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Super Rugby preview: Leaders Sharks take on Cheetahs in Durban
Sharks will look to extend their lead at the Super Rugby summit on Saturday when they host the Cheetahs at the Growthpoint Stadium in Durban.
Jake White's side have won six of their opening seven games to charge to the top of the standings, but they must win if they are to retain their place as the Brumbies receive an automatic four points with a Round 10 bye.
The Sharks maintained their competition lead with a 25-12 victory over the Lions last weekend, while the Cheetahs were handed a 52-31 drubbing in a high-scoring Bloemfontein affair.
Naka Drotske's Cheetahs find themselves 14th in the Super Rugby table with only the Stormers below them after just one win and a draw in their opening eight fixtures.
Despite languishing towards the foot of the table, Cheetahs will draw heart from their 2013 visit to Kings Park, when tries from Raymond Rhule and Wille le Roux earned them a 12-6 victory over the Sharks.
Jake White will hand a Sharks debut to former Springbok winger Tonderai Chavhanga for the Derby in Durban.
Chavhanga, who made a record-breaking six-try debut for the Springboks, replaces Odwa Ndungane after the veteran wing sustained a shoulder injury in last week's win over the Lions.
The only other change to the backline comes at fly-half where Fred Zeilinga is replaced by Tim Swiel; while a rotational switch in the pack sees Keegan Daniel start at No 8 as Ryan Kankowski is rested, having started all seven of the previous matches his season.
White has been impressed with his team's defence to date, but remains wary of an often free-scoring Cheetahs side.
"We have the least number of points scored against us in the competition, the team with the best defensive record and interestingly enough, the Cheetahs have the highest number of points," the director of rugby said.
"As a coach, you know they are dangerous with ball in hand but there are opportunities to score against them because they are so attack orientated.
"What they've gone for is all-out attack, so when they turn the ball over, players aren't in a defensive mindset or positions, so they can leak tries. But the most important thing for us is that it is an opportunity for us to play against another team with a different style. "
Meanwhile, Cheetahs head coach Naka Drotske has made three changes to his starting XV for the trip to face the Sharks.
Springbok openside Heinrich Brussow returns to the back row replacing Lappies Labuschagné, who is sidelined with a groin injury and the flanker's inclusion means Boom Prinsloo will move to the blindside.
Elgar Watts gets the nod at fly-half in Johan Goosen's place after he was concussed in last weekend's reverse to the Crusaders, while Riaan Smit steps up to the bench as cover for the No 10.
The only other change sees Caylib Oosthuizen returning to the front row with Trevor Nyakane dropping to the bench.
Sharks 15 Mvovo, 14 Chavhanga, 13 Sithole, 12 Steyn, 11 Pietersen, 10 Swiel, 9 McLeod; 1 Mtawarira, 2 B Du Plessis (capt), 3 J Du Plessis, 4 Alberts, 5 Lewies, 6 Coetzee, 7 Deysel, 8 Daniel.
Replacements: 16 Cooper, 17 Chadwick, 18 Adriaanse, 19 Oosthuizen, 20 Kankowski, 21 Ungerer, 22 Williams, 23 Marais.
Cheetahs: 15 Le Roux, 14 Hendricks, 13 Sadie, 12 Benjamin, 11 Daniller, 10 Watts, 9 Pretorius; 1 Oosthuizen, 2 Strauss (capt), 3 Van Dyk, 4 De Jager, 5 Uys, 6 Brussow, 7 Prinsloo, 8 Cook.
Replacements: 16 Barnes, 17 Nyakane, 18 De Klerk, 19 Ferreira, 20 Mohoje, 21 Venter, 22 Smith, 23 Rhule.
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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