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“Strategic Dilemmas and Desperate Endeavors: The Hollywood bets Sharks vs. Benetton Rugby Clash”

What you need to know more about

  • The Sharks aim to draw a large crowd to Hollywoodbets Sharks Stadium for a match against Benetton, an Italian team that has performed well this season, possesses an international flair at full strength, and currently sits in the URC top eight.
  • The upcoming clash in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship between the Hollywoodbets Sharks and Benetton in Durban this weekend will place the visitors in a desperate mood.

The upcoming clash in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship between the Hollywoodbets Sharks and Benetton in Durban this weekend will place the visitors in a desperate mood. Meanwhile, for the hosts, a bit of a quandary lies before their coach, John Plumtree.

Having conquered their most immediate challenge by defeating Clermont-Aurvergne in an exhilarating EPCR Challenge Cup semifinal in London last weekend, the Sharks have their sights set on the final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 24th. This final is crucial as it represents their sole avenue into next season’s Investec Champions Cup.

So, what’s Plumtree’s move? This weekend’s fixture won’t significantly impact the Sharks’ URC standings; they’re mathematically out of contention for the top eight. Demonstrating their prioritization of the cup competition, the Sharks fielded a completely second-string team against Glasgow Warriors at the onset of their recent overseas tour.

However, a home game presents a different scenario, particularly with paying spectators to please. The Sharks aim to draw a large crowd to Hollywoodbets Sharks Stadium for a match against Benetton, an Italian team that has performed well this season, possesses an international flair at full strength, and currently sits in the URC top eight.

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The Challenge Cup semifinal, where the Sharks struggled in the first half but stayed in the game due to Clermont’s indiscipline, highlighted areas for improvement. The upcoming URC matches against Cardiff and others present opportunities to refine aspects like lineouts, defense, and scrums, which faltered against the French side.

Plumtree aims to maintain momentum leading up to the final. While he may protect star players like Eben Etzebeth and Bongi Mbonambi, who’ve shouldered heavy loads this season, the selection for this game will likely be a blend of regulars and those who impressed in previous matches.

Saturday’s game could have served as a precursor to the Challenge Cup final, but Benetton’s loss in their semifinal against Gloucester altered the scenario. For Benetton, this tour marks a make-or-break phase after hovering in the top four for much of the season.

Their grasp on a top-eight spot, essential for playoff and Champions Cup qualification, is precarious. With a looming matchup against the Vodacom Bulls at Fortress Loftus the following week, Benetton will likely target the Durban game, hoping to emulate the Ospreys’ recent surprise victory in Cape Town.

A victory for the Sharks would benefit other South African teams, particularly the Bulls and the Stormers, who are narrowly ahead of Benetton on the log standings.

Benetton arrives in Durban with a 32-man squad, including three South African players expected to play significant roles. Among them is star utility back Rhyno Smith, a former impact player for the Sharks. Veteran scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage brings familiarity with Durban, having played there frequently with the Stormers and Western Province. Eli Snyman, a co-captain, adds experience to the squad. Notable players also include prop Simone Ferrari, loose forwards Sebastian Negri and Alessandro Izekor, and flyhalf Jacob Umaga.

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However, the tourists have been hampered by injuries, sidelining key players like centre Malakai Fekitoa, prop Thomas Gallo, lock Marco Lazzaroni, and veteran front-rower Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.

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