'Sharks have to win' - du Preez

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    05 May 2018     Getty Images

Sharks coach Robert du Preez has laid down the gauntlet to his side and their need to put wins on the board at home.

"For us it is a game that is at home and we need to win our home games. This is going to be a massive game for us.

"They [the Highlanders] would have taken a lot out of their performance against the Bulls, they are a good team, but we are here to win – we have to win this game," du Preez told the Natal Mercury.

The Sharks are coming off a bye and are freshened as a result.

"It was a much-needed bye, you can see it in the players, they are really energised, and we have had some really good practices this week," du Preez said.

The fact his side beat the Blues and took the Hurricanes deep into injury time before conceding had been a big lift in his players' mindsets.

"It will give the boys confidence [having done so well against New Zealand sides], but every game is a new game. These guys play a good brand of rugby, they keep the ball and they are relentless on defence so we will have to break them down and we have to be patient," he said.

Meanwhile, Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger defended referee Glen Jackson for a controversial call that allowed the Highlanders a win over the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend.

He told that Jackson was a top referee who had to make calls in the moment. Mauger said there had been a few calls in the game that had gone the Bulls' way, and it was the same in every game.

"I thought Glen had a pretty good game and, looking around the competition, there are quality referees right across Super Rugby.

"As a team, we try to understand the trends the referees are showing through their performances, however, the focus is more on ourselves really. We try to ensure that we are on point with our own detail and the objective is to take the referees out of the equation as much as we can," he said.

Mauger also paid tribute to first five-eighths Lima Sopoaga who ends his connection with the side at the end of the compaign to play for Wasps. Sopoaga kicked the match-winning goal to sink the Bulls last weekend.

"Lima has been an amazing servant for the club and is part of the success and position the team finds itself in today near the top of the table. He has been fantastic with our young 10s and has been helping mentor and guide them through," he said.