Ben Lucas replaces Quade Cooper at flyhalf. Source: Peter Wallis/News Limited
The Queensland Reds will be looking to stretch their winning sequence to seven matches when they face the Sharks in the second Super Rugby qualifying final at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night. With Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper suspended following his high tackle on Berrick Barnes last weekend, Ben Lucas will wear the number ten jersey with Mike Harris remaining at inside centre.
The Sharks are also without their main playmaker after Springbok fullback Pat Lambie suffered an ankle injury in his side’s win over the Cheetahs. Mid-season recruit Francois Steyn is ineligible for the finals after signing after the April 1st transfer deadline, but the South African side can still call on an experienced campaigner to guide the team around the park. Former France flyhalf Frederic Michalak will take on greater responsibility in the absence of Lambie and Steyn.
The last time that these teams met, in Durban four months ago, the Sharks overcame a 17-0 deficit to win 27-22. They will find it much tougher in Brisbane however, where the Reds have won 21 of their past 23 matches, including last year’s Super Rugby final against the Crusaders.
Prediction: Reds 1-12
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