Sharks make their Heineken Champions Cup bow on Saturday with a tough opening fixture against Tabai Matson’s Harlequins at Hollywoodbets Kings Park.
Cell C Sharks will face a stern test from a Quins side looking for an historic victory, having won their last three Gallagher Premiership fixtures to sit third in the table.
The away team will be looking to improve on last season’s Heineken Champions Cup campaign, when they were edged out by Montpellier Hérault Rugby, losing by a single point on aggregate in the Round of 16.
The South African side welcome Quins to Durban for the first time as they look to follow up on a quarter-final in their maiden United Rugby Championship (URC) season with a strong Heineken Champions Cup showing.
The Pool A contest kicks off at 13:00 (UK & Irish time) and will be shown on BT Sport, beIN SPORTS, SuperSport and FloRugby.
Yaw Penxe (Cell C Sharks): “The Harlequins fans were sending messages about getting tickets weeks ago already, so it’s going to be big, and Durban loves rugby. There is [a buzz around the Champions Cup].It’s obviously coming up now in a week or so, so there is a lot of excitement.”
Stephan Lewies (Harlequins): “Our goal is to get further in the competition. It will be tough playing the Cell C Sharks and Racing 92, but I think as soon as you get to a quarter-final then anything is possible so that will be our goal, to get to a quarter or a semi. Then it’s just on the day- in a Heineken Champions Cup you’ll always be up for it.”
Cell C Sharks
- The Heineken Champions Cup debutants are the most challenging side in the BKT URC to scrummage against. Their opposition have averaged just an 80% success rate at scrum time in the league this season.
- The form of the Cell C Sharks in Durban has been mixed so far this season: they have alternated between losses and wins, now with two of each.
- Harlequins No 8 Alex Dombrandt made more try assists in last season’s Heineken Champions Cup than any other forward (five). He also made the most clean breaks (seven).
- Quins wrecking ball centre, André Esterhuizen, made the most dominant carry contacts last season with 16.
- In the maul, Harlequins finished their 2021/22 campaign with a competition-high 97% ball retention rate.
- In the opposition 22, Quins scored a try or won a penalty more often than any other side in last season’s Heineken Champions Cup, achieving one of these positive outcomes with 29% of their red zone entries.