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Sharks ready for battle with Chiefs


THE Sharks say they relish the underdog tag ahead of today's Super Rugby final in which favourites the Chiefs have been boosted by confirmation captain Craig Clarke has been cleared to play.

The Chiefs host the championship decider at home in Hamilton because of their superior placing in the regular season where they finished second, while the Sharks were the sixth and last team to qualify for the play-offs.

To make the top six, after mixed fortunes through the first half of the year, the Sharks won six of their final seven regular season games.

They have since clocked up a Super finals series travelling record as they criss-crossed the Indian Ocean three times to beat the Queensland Reds in Brisbane, the Stormers in Cape Town and now they're in Hamilton.

But coach John Plumtree reckons doing it the hard way has been good for the team.

''It's given us that little bit of confidence going into the big game,'' he said. ''We've beaten the Australian conference winners, the South African winners and now we take on the New Zealand winners, it's been great for our team spirit.

''We know we have a lot of support back home and we're also aware of the fact that no one is really giving us a chance, so it's an opportunity to prove a lot of people wrong that we can pick ourselves up and go again.''

During the regular season the Sharks lost six of 16 matches, while the Chiefs dropped four after being written off at the start of the year as a side that lacked depth of experience.

Much of their ability to close out matches lay with the leadership skills of Clarke, whose appearance in the final was in doubt after he strained a knee ligament during last week's semi-final win against the Canterbury Crusaders.

He was only cleared to play late Thursday and his locking partner, Brodie Retallick, said it was the tonic the Chiefs were looking for.

''It's just awesome what he's done and to have him out there, just with his leadership around the field and come lineout time, it's definitely a bonus to have him there,'' he said.

The Chiefs will be starting with the same run-on side that beat the Crusaders 20-17 in the semi-finals, while the Sharks have made two changes to the side that beat the Stormers 26-19. Paul Jordaan replaces the injured Tim Whitehead at inside-centre and Patrick Lambie returns from injury to start at full-back ahead of Riaan Viljoen.

In the history of Super Rugby, the Chiefs have a slight edge over the Sharks, winning eight of their 15 clashes.


HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs WAL 0 02:00Twic
NZL 0vs FRA 0 06:00MilS
IRE 0vs ARG 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 0vs SCO 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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