The Stormers' inexperienced forwards are set for a gruelling examination of their skills and composure in Buenos Aires this Saturday, writes JON CARDINELLI.
For most of the Stormers players, this visit to Argentina is a first. They will go into the historic match against the Jaguares with no experience of a typical match played in Argentinian conditions. They will have no idea of how that fierce home support serves to galvanise the local team.
The Stormers will need to match the physicality of the Jaguares. At the same time, they can't afford to get pushed into a full-scale brawl. Composure will be key.
The Brumbies tried to get under the Stormers' skin at Newlands last weekend. The Cape side did well to maintain their physicality and composure in that clash and run out 31-11 winners.
One would have expected the Stormers to continue in that vein this week. One would have expected the same team and game plan. And given the Stormers will enjoy a bye next week, there is absolutely no reason to hold back.
However, Robbie Fleck has opted to make several changes for this encounter. The selections may rob the Stormers of some physicality and composure in a contest where both will be crucial.
Twenty-year-old lock JD Schickerling will be tasked with managing the Stormers lineout. Sikhumbuzo Notshe will start in a new loose trio that appears to have more guile than grunt. Veteran Springbok loose forward Schalk Burger has been dropped to the bench.
The Jaguares have thrilled with their attacking displays during the initial rounds of the 2016 Super Rugby tournament. They will test the Stormers defence when they get the ball in space.
The key to their relative success, however, has been the performance of their forwards. While they are yet to really fire as a scrummaging unit, they have lived up to their reputation as great breakdown spoilers.
How the Stormers react to that challenge will be crucial. They did well to clear David Pocock and company away at the rucks last weekend. They will have to do the same when fronted with the Jaguares this Saturday.
The Stormers have to start this contest well. They don't want to be in a position where they are chasing the game in the final quarter.
The Jaguares will fancy their chances in this fixture against a weakened Stormers pack. They scored their first win of the tournament against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in round one. They could well obtain their first home victory this Saturday.
STATS AND FACTS
– The Jaguares have already beaten South African opposition (Cheetahs), and claimed a losing bonus point in their other encounter with a team from that country (Sharks).
– The Stormers average just 15.5 points per game in their last four matches away from home, though they’ve gone on to win two of those matches.
– In all three of the Jaguares’ games so far, the team trailing at half-time has gone on to win the match.
– Eben Etzebeth has made 44 tackles, the most of any player yet to miss an attempt.
– The Jaguares have conceded five tries in the opening quarter of matches this season, more than any other team in the competition, though the Stormers have scored only one of their nine tries in that period.
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Jaguares||Nicolás Sánchez (30)||Martin Landajo (3)||Santiago Cordero (220)||Pablo Matera (23)|
|Stormers||Kurt Coleman (30)||Leolin Zas (2)||Cheslin Kolbe (263)||Eben Etzebeth (44)|
Jaguares – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Lucas González Amorosino, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Santiago García Botta.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Roberto Tejerizo, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Santiago Cordero.
Stormers – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (c), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe (c), 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Huw Jones.
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Santiago Borasni (Argentina)
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix