An improved performance on defence will boost the Stormers' chances of claiming a bonus-point win against the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday, writes JON CARDINELLI.
The Stormers have had two weeks to reflect on their disappointing loss to the Waratahs. While Leolin Zas's red card did influence the contest in the final quarter, the Stormers will know that their overall performance left a lot to be desired.
The Cape side is coming off a bye and will be determined to bounce back against the Sunwolves in Singapore this weekend. They will be hunting a try-scoring bonus point against a limited team that has struggled in its debut season.
The last fixture between these two teams saw the Stormers winning 46-19 at Newlands. In the aftermath, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck admitted that it was patchy display by his charges. According to SARugbymag.co.za's Opta-powered stats, the Stormers missed as many as 30 tackles and conceded three tries.
They will endeavour to score tries in Singapore this Saturday. They should also attempt to stifle the Sunwolves' attack. Ultimately, they must ensure that they score three more tries than their Japanese opponents.
The Sunwolves are coming off a 40-22 defeat to the Force. While the Sunwolves conceded six tries in that match, they scored four and denied the Force a bonus point.
The Japanese side is at its most dangerous in broken play. It's for this reason that the Stormers must adopt a more structured approach and play away from the Sunwolves' strengths.
Indeed, the Sunwolves have proved vulnerable in many other areas. They possess the weakest lineout in the competition. Their defence has missed an average of 23 tackles per match.
The Sunwolves are currently ranked 15th in the tournament for kicks in play. The Stormers may look to test them early on with with a series of probing kicks. They will know that the Japanese side prefers to counter-attack rather than engage in a tactical-kicking battle. If the Stormers defence manages to contain that counter-attack, the visitors will dominate territory.
It wouldn't surprise to see the Stormers mauling from the lineout in the early stages. A direct approach should pay dividends for the visitors, and they should go to half-time with a healthy lead.
However, the Stormers will have to maintain their effort in the second stanza to secure the try-scoring bonus point. The Sunwolves enjoy an open contest, and have the ability to punish a tiring defence at the end of a match.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Stormers 1, Sunwolves 0
In Singapore: n/a
STATS AND FACTS
– This will be the second meeting between these sides, with the Stormers winning 46-19 in Cape Town in their round seven clash.
– The Sunwolves’ home games have seen 55 points per game scored on average.
– The Stormers have won each of their last three games outside South Africa, their best run overseas since winning four in a row across 2011 and 2012.
– Of all teams in Super Rugby, the Stormers have forced the lowest success rates from their opposition in both set pieces this season (scrum 71%, lineout 77%).
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Sunwolves||Tusi Pisi (83)||Akihito Yamada (7)||Riaan Viljoen (584)||Ed Quirk (81)|
|Stormers||Jean-Luc du Plessis (59)||Leolin Zas, Sikhumbuzo Notshe (3)||Cheslin Kolbe (504)||Pieter-Steph du Toit (83)|
Sunwolves – 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Akihito Yamada, 13 Derek Carpenter, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa (c), 11 John Stewart, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Atsushi Hiwasa, 8 Ed Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Fa’ Atiga Lemalu, 4 Timothy Bond, 3 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 2 Takeshi Kizu, 1 Masataka Mikami.
Subs: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Ziun Gu, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Yoshiya Hosoda, 20 Taiyo Ando, 21 Yuki Yatomi, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Mifiposeti Paea.
Stormers – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh (c), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kobus van Wyk, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Frans Malherbe (c), 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Huw Jones.
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Takashi Hareda (Japan)
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images