South Africa

Lions v Sharks URC derby: Six potential match winners


The Lions and Sharks go head to head in their massive United Rugby Championship (URC) derby clash at Ellis Park on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 3pm).

Both teams are desperate for wins but for different reasons, with the Lions wanting to end a four game losing run and stay in the hunt for a top eight placing, while the Sharks have lost nine out of 10 games and will want to pick up some winning momentum.

ALSO READ: A game of close margins expected between Lions and Sharks

Here are three players from each team who could play a vital role in whether their side wins or loses:

Lions

Francke Horn

The in-form number eight will be eager to prove a point after he missed out on selection for the first Springbok alignment camp.

Horn is definitely playing well enough to be selected, but with the loose forward stocks for the Boks always stacked competition is fierce, with Cameron Hanekom and Evan Roos picked ahead of him.

The Sharks game is thus the perfect opportunity for him to show the Bok selectors what they are missing out on and a match winning performance would go a long way towards that.

Sanele Nohamba

The stage is set for Nohamba to show the Bok selectors why he will be an extremely valuable utility player for them after he was named to start at scrumhalf.

Nohamba has been superb at flyhalf for the Lions this season, keeping Jordan Hendrikse out of the starting berth and his performances saw him picked for the alignment camp.

But with Hendrikse now back at 10, Nohamba gets the chance to shine at nine, and a starring performance against a World Cup winner in Grant Williams will make him stand out.

Emmanuel Tshituka

In a blow for the Lions, but a big move for ‘Manu’ as he is affectionately known, Tshituka was announced as a new Sharks signing for the 2024/25 rugby season.

Manu will be joining up with his big brother, another former Lion Vincent, at the union next season, but he will want to prove why the Sharks have decided to bring him in with a big performance.

He is coming off a hamstring strain which kept him out of the Bulls game, but with him playing off the bench he will be eager to close out the game for his side when he comes on.

Sharks

Bongi Mbonambi

The double World Cup winner will be captaining a largely second string Sharks team in a difficult trip up to the Highveld.

Mbonambi will need to make his presence felt to lead from the front and will hope his partnership with Ntuthuko Mchunu and the experienced Coenie Oosthuizen can tame a formidable Lions front row.

Mbonambi will likely be backed to play most of the game and his influence throughout could prove the difference between his side winning or losing.

Aphelele Fassi

The Sharks fullback has been in terrific form this season, but once again missed out on selection for the Boks alignment camp.

The former Bok utility back has been out of the mix since the 2022 season and he will be desperate to continue impressing to try and force his way back in.

Against the Lions he has the perfect opportunity to try and prove his worth, particularly against his opposite number Quan Horn who was picked for the camp next week.

Curwin Bosch

Sharks regular starting flyhalf Curwin Bosch will be looking to make a big impact off the bench after Siya Masuku was handed his first start for the match.

Bosch has been a player who has not been able to live up to the huge expectations placed on him at a young age, and could find the going even tougher from next season.

Jordan Hendrikse was announced as a new signing for the Sharks for the 2024/25 season, so competition for the 10 jersey will be fierce and Bosch will need to prove his worth this weekend.