Historic City Hall Cabildo of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Picture: 123RF/ HENRIK DOLLE
Historic City Hall Cabildo of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Picture: 123RF/ HENRIK DOLLE

The Sharks’ Super Rugby playoff hopes hang by a thread and the worst place they could go to is Buenos Aires where the dangerous Jaguares await this weekend.

The equation is straightforward for both teams.

The Jaguares (currently on 41 points) win and they wrap up the SA conference with a game to spare. A loss for the Sharks (33 points) pretty much ends their interest in the playoffs‚ especially with the teams above them — the Bulls (34) and Lions (35) — having earlier games against the Highlanders and the Hurricanes to capitalise on their advantages.

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What is worse‚ the Sharks face a team that put 50 past them earlier this season in a listless display by the Durban side. They were blown away at home on April 13 in a game that signalled the Jaguares’ intentions in the tournament.

Sharks loose-forward Daniel du Preez played in that game and admitted they were blown off the park. It was a forgettable outing in every respect for the Sharks‚ but it is one they have got over.

“I don’t think we pitched up on that day. We didn’t look after the ball and we didn’t build any scoreboard pressure. We got a big hiding in that game, but on Saturday we’re expecting a game that’s somewhere near a Test match and we’re looking forward to it‚” said Du Preez, who earned his 50th Super Rugby cap in the Sharks’ 30-17 home loss to the Hurricanes last weekend.

“It’s a very tough place to play and the crowd there is very passionate‚” he said. “It’s the closest I think we’ll get to playing a Test match‚ so it’s going to be a tough battle.

“They’ve got a few dangerous players among their forwards and backs. They live off your mistakes and we have to look after the ball better this week.”

Buenos Aires was not a very friendly place for SA teams last season‚ with all of them losing there. The Lions‚ though‚ collected a valuable win at the start of the campaign while the Sharks won there two years ago.

However‚ the Jaguares are notorious slow starters and as the season has progressed they have been in great shape, winning three of four matches on their recent Australasian tour.

Du Preez said the Jaguares will be buoyant because of their tour results.

“They would have taken confidence from the three out of four wins on the Australasian tour. We’ll have to be up for that game‚” Du Preez said. “The game against the Hurricanes did not go as planned, but we can take a lot from our performances this year. We just need to pull together as a team and cut down on our mistakes.”