Carizza key in Cape battle

The Stormers need Manuel Carizza and their lineout to fire in the crunch match against the Brumbies at Newlands this Saturday, writes JON CARDINELLI.

All the talk this week has been around the Stormers' malfunctioning lineout. Statistically speaking, the Cape side possess one of the least effective lineouts in the tournament. Their set-piece cause has suffered a further setback now that No 5 lock Ruan Botha has been ruled out for at least four weeks with an injury.

Storrmers coach Allister Coetzee has made a lot about the unique challenge facing the Cape-based side. Earlier in the week, many of the players were involved in a Springbok training camp in Johannesburg. Coetzee has lamented the fact that the Stormers' match-day 23 will have just two days to prepare for the Brumbies.

Meanwhile, the Brumbies have gone public with their intention to target the Stormers lineout. Coach Stephen Larkham said the visitors view it as an opportunity. The Brumbies lineout has been in good form on attack and defence. Their lineout drive will certainly be a weapon this Saturday.

The Brumbies boast the best lineout success rate (91%), while the Stormers are ranked the second-worst (78%). The Brumbies have the best lineout forward in this year's competition (Sam Carter has secured the ball 46 times, eight more than any other player).

The stats also confirm the Brumbies are capable of turning that set-piece possession into points. They have scored 22 tries from the lineout, a 2015 competition high. The Stormers have scored only five when starting from the lineout, a competition low.

The Stormers need to disrupt the Brumbies' set-piece fluidity this Saturday. Carizza, who boasts Test experience with Argentina, will need to lead the way in this regard. The Stormers need to win their own ball at the lineout, but they also need to contest and get under the skin of players like Carter. Carizza needs to produce a big individual performance, and manage the lineout as a unit to good effect.

Coetzee has also spoken about the Brumbies' threat at the tackle. The visitors have some strong ball-carriers in No 8 Ita Vaea and outside centre Tevita Kuridrani.

But the bigger danger may be at the breakdowns. The hosts need to be accurate at the attacking rucks and limit David Pocock's ball-stealing opportunities. If Pocock succeeds in slowing the Stormers' attacking ball down, it will allow the Brumbies' famed defence to realign. And if the Wallabies fetcher makes the turnover and sparks a counter-attack, the visitors have the finishers out wide capable of translating opportunities into points.

Overall: Stormers 5, Brumbies 11, Draw 1
In Cape Town: Stormers 4, Brumbies 4, Draw 1

– The last three matches between these sides have all been won by 10-plus points, with the Stormers picking up two 13-point victories but losing the most recent meeting.
– Stormers centre Damian de Allende (49) is set to become the first player to reach 50 for defenders beaten this season. He has beaten at least 12 more than anybody else so far.
– These are two of four sides to average fewer than 10 penalties conceded this season. The Brumbies have averaged the most penalties won this season (11.8).

Team Top point-scorer Top try-scorer Most metres gained Most tackles
Stormers Demetri Catrakilis (101) Dillyn Leyds (3) Cheslin Kolbe (777) Nizaam Carr (75)
Brumbies Christian Lealiiafano (103) Joe Tomane, Ben Alexander, David Pocock (3) Henry Speight (483) Jarrad Butler (35)

Stormers – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh/Huw Jones, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Allistair Vermaak, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22  Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones/Pat Howard.

Brumbies – 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Robbie Coleman, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 JP Smith.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.

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Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

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Jon Cardinelli