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It's 'advantage' Sharks as Euro Cup semifinal looms

SPOTLIGHT: The Sharks assistant coach Dave Williams believes the two-week United Rugby Championship tour is a big advantage for the European Challenge Cup semifinal.

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The Sharks are in Europe for encounters with Glasgow Warriors in Scotland and Scarlets in Wales.

The Durban-based team are 13th on the URC standings, with just 18 points after three wins and 10 defeats.

The position is certainly not what is expected from the Springbok-laden Sharks squad.

However, they have certainly redeemed themselves in the last few weeks.

They recorded four consecutive wins – Zebre (47-3), Edinburgh (23-13) and Ulster (22-12) – including the 36-30 win over Edinburgh in a Challenge Cup quarterfinal.

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They will face Clermont Auvergne in the semifinal on May 4 at Twickenham Stoop.

“It is amazing how the fixtures turned out for us,” the Williams said.

“Ideally playing the semifinal at home would have been great.

“But to do it at the back of a two-week tour – where we can build some camaraderie and connection amongst the guys and building up to the week and place where we are going to play – is an advantage for us.”

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Williams said going up against a quality team like Glasgow Warriors, who are second on the URC log, is good preparation.

“Glasgow Warriors is a great challenge on Friday,” he said.

“They are unbeaten at home this season, so it’s going to be difficult to gain the win away from home.

“But we are away for two weeks so it is a great build-up for that Challenge Cup game.”

The side received a lot of flack throughout the season.

However, the franchise turned things around and could be the first South African team to claim European silverware.

When asked what spurred the change in the team’s form, Williams said it all boils down to consistency and confidence.

“We have had consistency in selection.

“The availability of our full roster, combined with time spent together and continuous belief resulted in some good performance.

“Before this winning run, we went down by less than four points, so just the confidence of a few wins brings belief to the squad and confidence to carry out the plan on the field.”

Williams added: “The season has been about growing the depth of the squad.

“The players who understand how we want to play.

“We can bring people off the bench and still carry on.

“We are in a great place with the depth we created.”

The Sharks will name the team to face the Glasgow Warriors on Thursday.

 

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