The Stormers' attacking play will need to be on point if they are to realise their bonus-point objective against the Cheetahs at Newlands, writes JON CARDINELLI.
In the buildup to the derby between these sides in Bloemfontein on 2 May, I wrote that the Stormers would rack up a bonus-point victory against the Cheetahs. The latter team was without a host of big name players. Statistically, the Cheetahs were among the worst defensive outfits in the tournament.
And yet, the Cheetahs went on to out-muscle the Stormers and win 25-17. In the aftermath, both Stormers coach Allister Coetzee and captain Duane Vermeulen bemoaned the Cape side's complacent attitude. They realised that the Stormers had missed an opportunity.
Fortunately for the Cape side, several other results have gone their way in the ensuing rounds, and they are currently in a strong position to finish at the top of the South African conference. There is also a chance the Stormers will finish the league stage in second position on the overall log, and earn the right to host a semi-final.
The latter goal may depend on them banking at least one four-try bonus point in the final three rounds. And when you look at their next three opponents, it's clear that the contest against the Cheetahs will present the best opportunity as far as scoring four tries is concerned.
The Stormers don't need to alter their approach dramatically. They have one of the best scrums in the competition. Even though Schalk Burger has been rested for this clash, they will field a pack that can dominate the breakdowns and collisions.
If they go into Saturday's game with the right attitude, then the forwards will provide the backline with a great attacking platform. The back division, of course, needs to make the most of that platform.
The Stormers have only secured the four-try bonus point on one occasion this season. And in that match against the Waratahs, the forwards dominated the collisions. The Stormers' robust defence forced turnovers and created try-scoring chances.
The Stormers need to start applying more pressure from the set pieces, and bring dangerous runners like Damian de Allende and Kolbe into play. However, they must also remember what worked in that game against the Waratahs, and make the most of their counter-attacking chances.
In the latter stages of that clash, there was a turnover, and Kolbe raced 50m to clinch the four-try bonus point. One gets the feeling that the fullback could have a similar impact if he's presented with turnover ball this weekend.
One can't see the Cheetahs winning at Newlands on Saturday. They have only ever won once at this venue in the history of the tournament.
It will be Naka Drotské's final match as head coach of the franchise, and no doubt the players won't want for motivation. Unfortunately, there just aren't enough top players left standing at this stage of the competition for the Cheetahs to pose a real threat to the Stormers.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Stormers 9, Cheetahs 5
In Cape Town: Stormers 6, Cheetahs 1
STATS AND FACTS
– The Cheetahs have scored just three points combined in their last two away games against the Stormers, losing on their last six trips to their conference rivals.
– The Cheetahs have lost their last two games by more than 20 points; the last time they lost three in a row by 20-plus points was in 2010 (they lost four).
– The Stormers (81%) and the Cheetahs (80%) rank first and second for kick success this season.
– The Cheetahs have the worst scrum success this season (74%) while the Stormers boast the third best in Super Rugby 2015 (92%).
– The Cheetahs have conceded more metres (512) and clean breaks (11.8) per game than any other team this season, while the Stormers have conceded the third fewest in each category (389 and 6.5).
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Stormers||Demetri Catrakilis (137)||Dillyn Leyds (5)||Cheslin Kolbe (926)||DAmian de Allende (93)|
|Cheetahs||Joe Pietersen (90)||Boom Prinsloo (6)||Francois Venter (440)||Boom Prinsloo (147)|
Stormers – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notsche, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Subs: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Coenie van Wyk, 23 Rayno Benjamin.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha (South Africa), Francois Pretorius (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images