Schalk Burger will lead the physical charge when the Stormers host the Bulls at Newlands this Saturday, writes JON CARDINELLI.
The Stormers will want to forget about what transpired in their previous meeting with the Bulls. The Cape side was comprehensively outplayed by a superior Bulls outfit, as was reflected by the final scoreline of 28-12.
There is reason to hope, however, that this Saturday's fixture will witness a different result. For starters, the game will be played at Newlands. The Bulls will also be travelling to Cape Town with a depleted squad, and will be particularly vulnerable in the back row.
Schalk Burger and his fellow loose forwards will have the edge at the breakdowns and collisions this weekend. The Cape side boast a well-balanced back row, and while there is no out-and-out fetcher, there is a healthy blend of speed and physicality.
As an individual player, Burger has started to display the form of old. He made an impact for the Springboks when coming off the bench in the two Tests against Wales. And he was absolutely dominant at the tackle point when he played 80 minutes against Scotland.
The Bulls have lost regular skipper Flip van der Merwe and star blindside flanker Jacques du Plessis. What will give them some confidence is that Victor Matfield is still available, and they will count on the Bok lock to boss the lineouts.
But it's at the collisions and breakdowns where this game will be won and lost. The Stormers will be favourites to win the physical battle as well as the one on the scoreboard.
HEAD TO HEAD
Played: 22. Stormers 11, Bulls 10, Draw 1.
In Cape Town: Stormers 6, Bulls 4, Draw 1.
BURGER'S STATS THAT MATTER
49 – The number of tackles he's made in seven matches this season
48 – The number of carries he's made in seven matches this season
Source: Vodacom Rugby Stats App
Stormers – 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger (c), 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Seabelo Senatla.
Bulls – 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Grant Hattingh 7 Jacques Engelbrecht, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Morné Mellett, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23 William Small-Smith.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images