JON CARDINELLI and RYAN VREDE analyse the big Vodacom Super Rugby game at Ellis Park.
The Lions have their tails up after a massive win over the Cheetahs, and will enjoy home advantage at what should be a packed Ellis Park Stadium. But on the basis of last week's performance in Bloemfontein, and indeed what they've produced in past Super Rugby campaigns, I can't see them beating the Stormers.
The Cape side has the forwards and the defensive system to blunt the Lions attack, and won't be suckered into a looser approach that may compromise their prospects of victory.
That being said, I'm not expecting the Stormers to blow the Lions away. This marks their first game of the season, and it will take them some time to settle. Expect a Stormers win, but don't expect it to be convincing.
Prediction: Stormers by 5
The roar could be heard from Johannesburg when the Lions upset the Cheetahs last weekend. Expect normal service to resume this weekend with the Stormers in town.
The Cheetahs could not have been more charitable tactically, while their defensive execution was found wanting. The Stormers won't make these errors, and while they don't possess the strike power to blow the Lions away on attack, their pressure-creating, territorial game (led by flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis) will force the Lions to gamble from deep. This is when the Stormers are at their best, isolating runners and forcing broken-field opportunities through turnovers or forcing penalties.
Catrakilis kicked at 84% in the Currie Cup and I suspect he'll be the difference between the teams at Ellis Park.
Prediction: Stormers by 7
Lions – 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 MB Lusaseni, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 JW Jonker, 23 Coenie van Wyk.
Stormers – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Michael van der Spuy, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Damian de Allende, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Ryno Eksteen.
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