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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 27th March|
|06:35||Hurricanes vs Melbourne Rebels|
|09:00||Reds vs Lions|
|Saturday 28th March|
|05:30||Chiefs vs Cheetahs|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Stormers|
|08:40||Waratahs vs Blues|
|15:05||Sharks vs Western Force|
|17:10||Bulls vs Crusaders|
|Friday 3rd April|
|07:35||Hurricanes vs Stormers|
|09:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Reds|
|Saturday 4th April|
|07:35||Chiefs vs Blues|
|09:40||Brumbies vs Cheetahs|
|14:00||Sharks vs Crusaders|
|16:05||Lions vs Bulls|
|Friday 10th April|
|08:35||Blues vs Brumbies|
|Saturday 11th April|
|08:35||Crusaders vs Highlanders|
|10:40||Waratahs vs Stormers|
|12:45||Western Force vs Cheetahs|
|14:00||Bulls vs Reds|
|16:05||Lions vs Sharks|
|Friday 17th April|
|08:35||Crusaders vs Chiefs|
|Saturday 18th April|
|05:30||Hurricanes vs Waratahs|
|08:35||Highlanders vs Blues|
|10:40||Brumbies vs Melbourne Rebels|
|12:45||Western Force vs Stormers|
|16:05||Sharks vs Bulls|
|Sunday 22nd March|
|Waratahs 28 - 13 Brumbies|
|Saturday 21st March|
|Sharks 12 - 11 Chiefs|
|Bulls 25 - 24 Western Force|
|Crusaders 57 - 14 Cheetahs|
|Friday 20th March|
|Melbourne Rebels 16 - 20 Lions|
|Highlanders 13 - 20 Hurricanes|
|Saturday 14th March|
|Cheetahs 10 - 27 Sharks|
|Stormers 19 - 28 Chiefs|
|Reds 0 - 29 Brumbies|
|Highlanders 26 - 19 Waratahs|
|Crusaders 34 - 6 Lions|
|Friday 13th March|
|Western Force 17 - 21 Melbourne Rebels|
|Hurricanes 30 - 23 Blues|
|Saturday 7th March|
|Stormers 29 - 13 Sharks|
|Cheetahs 20 - 39 Bulls|
|Reds 5 - 23 Waratahs|
|Blues 10 - 13 Lions|
|Friday 6th March|
|Brumbies 27 - 15 Western Force|
|Chiefs 17 - 20 Highlanders|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Lions 19 - 22 Stormers|
|Bulls 43 - 35 Sharks|
|Melbourne Rebels 15 - 20 Brumbies|
|Chiefs 40 - 16 Crusaders|
|Friday 27th February|
|Cheetahs 25 - 24 Blues|
|Western Force 13 - 42 Hurricanes|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com