Reds v Sharks: Teams
At Suncorp Stadium, Saturday July 21, KO: 10.40am (BST), live on Sky Sports 2HD
Last Updated: 21/07/12 1:53pm
Having survived six straight elimination matches to scramble into the play-offs, the Reds' quest for back-to-back semi-finals continues when they take on the Sharks.
The Reds pulled off the upset of the Australian conference by slipping past the Brumbies with a bonus-point win against the Waratahs to make the finals after a horror start to their season.
After crashing to five losses in seven games that all but scuppered their title defence, the Reds finally got their groove on and will now vie for a seventh straight win in front of a sellout crowd at Suncorp Stadium where they have only lost four of their 25 games.
The Sharks won their regular-season fixture over the Reds in Durban, coming back from 17 points down late in the first half to send the defending champions packing.
However, the Reds in their own backyard are an entirely different proposition and the Sharks will also have their hosts' intimidating home record to deal with.
A nightmare travel schedule has not helped the visitors either, with coach John Plumtree admitting they expected to be heading to Canberra instead of Brisbane before the Reds bonus-point victory ensured a longer trip for the Sharks.
Indeed, they would surely have preferred facing the wobbly Brumbies rather than a Reds side on a six-game winning streak - especially after the South Africans won in Canberra 29-26 in round six.
But if you want to win this competition, you've got to be able to beat everyone and knocking over the defending champions at their fortress is a good place to start for the Sharks.
If they pull off a win, they will then have to travel back to South Africa for next Saturday's semi-final against the Stormers which will suit them just fine.
The Sharks do not lack experience in finals rugby either. They have been there done that, however it hasn't always been plain sailing.
The men from Durban have played in 10 play-offs (including three finals), but they've only won a total of three of these matches (all of them in semi-finals). Last year they were faced with a similar task, but came up short against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
The loss of Reds playmaker Quade Cooper has given the Sharks plenty to smile about though, but they have their own headaches after losing full-back Pat Lambie (injury) and inside centre Frans Steyn (ineligible).
Some may argue that this loss of the Springbok duo is more of a stumbling block than the non-availability of Cooper, but both sides have shown this season they can still produce the goods without them.
Reds: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Ben Lucas, 9 Will Genia (capt); 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Jake Schatz, 5 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Radike Samo, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Ben Tapuai
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod; 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (capt), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane