The Stormers will need to contain Sonny Bill Williams if they are to beat the Chiefs at Newlands this Saturday, writes JON CARDINELLI.
Williams has made a big impact since returning from rugby league. His power in the tackle has been evident, as has his lightining quick reflexes and vision.
Who could forget that skilful performance in the first game of the season against the Blues? Williams was prominent in the buildup to both of the Chiefs' tries. He has been just as influential in the Waikato-based side's subsequent matches.
At present, Williams has the joint-best offload stats (nine). Needless to say, the Stormers will need to limit his opportunities this coming Saturday. They can't allow the Chiefs to attack from broken field, and they can't allow Williams to get on the front foot when there is a set piece.
The Stormers have scrummed well this season, and will take some confidence into the battle against the Chiefs. Their lineout was erratic against the Sharks last week, but they will take heart from the fact they defended the maul exceptionally well.
If the Stormers can build on that set-piece effort, they should be too strong for the Chiefs. They will be favourites to win the set pieces, as well as the collisions, even though they are without Eben Etzebeth. They have one of the world's best loose forwards in Duane Vermeulen, and one of the form players of this year's tournament, Damian de Allende.
The latter will want to make a further point after his dominant display against the Sharks last week. The Chiefs are the type of side that can win a match despite their failures at the set pieces and gainline. De Allende and the other Stormers defenders will need to be wary of those Chiefs backs, who have a reputation for conjuring something from nothing.
If the Stormers succeed in slowing the game down, and ensure the contest remains structured, they will win. However, if the Cape side strays from this formula and attempts to beat the Chiefs in a running game, they will be punished.
While they've opted for a new halfback pairing in Louis Schreuder and Kurt Coleman for this fixture, they would be foolish to stray from a game plan that's earned them four consecutive wins in 2015.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Stormers 9, Chiefs 8
In Cape Town: Stormers 5 , Chiefs 2
STATS AND FACTS
– The Stormers have won their opening four games, their best start since 2012 when they won their first six.
– The Stormers have conceded the fewest metres and clean breaks on average this season.
– The Chiefs have offloaded more than any other team on average this season (18.3).
– No side has scored as many tries from inside their own half as the Chiefs this season (4).
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Stormers||Demetri Catrakilis (56)||Dillyn Leyds (2)||Cheslin Kolbe (280)||Michael Rhodes (29)|
|Chiefs||Aaron Cruden (36)||Charlie Ngatai, James Lowe (2)||James Lowe (394)||Sam Cane (39)|
Stormers – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubenii, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Huw Jones.
Chiefs – 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (c), 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Subs: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Jamie Mackintosh, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Maama Vaipulu, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Tom Marshall.
Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images