Stormers braced for scrum battle

Allister Coetzee is confident the Stormers will be able to front up to the Vodacom Bulls pack at Loftus on Saturday, reports BRENTON CHELIN.

The buildup to the Currie Cup final against the Lions centred on one aspect of the game – the scrums. The feeling was, if the Lions could gain the dominance through their much-vaunted front row, the rest would fall into place. By and large, the Lions managed to secure the upper hand, but the result slipped their grasp.

For Western Province, it was a lucky escape, and a lesson learned. Following that narrow victory, the coaching staff set about retooling the scrum, with Wilco Louw brought in from the Bulls and Vincent Koch signed from the Pumas.

'The scrum was something we looked at after the Currie Cup final, and we've put greater emphasis on it during pre-season,' said Coetzee. 'We're looking to create a scrum culture here. We don't just want to hold our own, we want to start dominating at scrum time.'

The two new signings have featured prominently during the pre-season, along with a fit-again Steven Kitshoff. The Stormers have enjoyed two strong outings in the scrums, against the SWD Eagles and the Cheetahs. Their performance against the latter, where they won a number of scrum penalties, can be considered a statement on intent.

'I'm pleased with how they've [Louw and Koch] gone so far. We scrummed very well against the Cheetahs, who had a strong front row on the field.

'I was also pleased with how we went against a strong Saracens side [two weeks after the Currie Cup final].'

The Bulls struggled at scrum time against the same opposition during their pre-season meeting, with Werner Kruger being replaced by Marcel van der Merwe at half-time.

Unfortunately for the Bulls, Van der Merwe suffered a setback during his brief appearance and will miss the start of the season. His loss has been compounded by the news that Dean Greyling will also miss Saturday's match.

The good news for the Bulls is Bok hooker Adriaan Strauss will be fit to partner compatriot Trevor Nyakane in the front row, with Kruger likely to get the nod at tighthead prop despite his performance against Saracens.

Early indications, however, are the Bulls won't be able to achieve quite the same dominance they enjoyed during last year's 28-12 win.

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images