Preview: Stormers vs Waratahs

The Stormers will be determined to end their barren run of results when they host the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday.

The past week has been an eventful period for the men from the Cape. Allister Coetzee and his charges have returned from a difficult Australasian tour – where they lost all four of their matches – while former Stormers coach Gert Smal has been appointed as WP director of rugby. While Smal's new role will not involve direct coaching of the senior team, there's no doubt that he will be watching this game closely and several of the players will be determined to impress their new boss.

Adding to the hosts' pressure is the absence of regular skipper Jean de Villiers through injury. Damian de Allende will wear the Stormers' No 12 jersey and Coetzee is confident his midfield partnership with Juan de Jongh will make up for De Villiers's absence.

Another Stormers player who will keen to impress is No 8 Duane Vermeulen, who takes over the captaincy in De Villiers's absence. Vermeulen has not been at his best in previous matches and it will be interesting to see how he performs with addditional pressure of leadership on his shoulders.

The Stormers hold the upper hand in matches against the Waratahs having won 62% of their home games against them since the 1998 season, which included victories in their last two encounters at Newlands in 2012 and 2013.

Unfortunately for the hosts, however, their attack has let them down in the first seven rounds, with the team scoring only nine tries in their six matches compared to the Waratahs' 17 tries in five matches.

Adding to that, is the fact that the Waratahs are currently the best defensive team in the competition. In their five previous matches, they have only conceded eight tries and 94 points overall.

Defence plays a pivotal role in the visitors' game plan. They have an 89% tackle success rate, which is the best in the tournament, and none of the Waratahs are among the the top 30 for missed tackles.

They will be less dangerous on attack after it was revealed that Israel Folau will, for the second week in a row, not be in action due to a throat injury.

Folau's absence was felt in last weekend's 32-10 loss to the Sharks and coach Michael Cheika has moved another dangerous attacker, Kurtley Beale, to fullback for this encounter. Beale has impressed at inside centre in his previous matches this season but is equally at home at the back and should still keep the Stormers' defenders busy.

Stormers – 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Michael Rhodes, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Tazz Fuzani, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Michael van der Spuy.

Waratahs – 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Jono Lance, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Dave Dennis (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgeiter, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sepoke Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs: TBC

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Photo: William West/AFP Photo

Post by

Simon Borchardt