Joel Stransky says the Stormers will have the edge over the Vodacom Bulls when the two sides clash in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship final at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, reports DEVIN HERMANUS.
The 1995 World Cup-winning flyhalf has also backed Manie Libbok to thrive behind a dominant Stormers pack in rainy conditions for the north-south derby that will decide the inaugural URC champions.
The Stormers have utilised the heat of South Africa’s summer to their advantage, lighting up the competition and wearing down their opponents with a high-tempo attack this season.
A 72% chance of rain has been predicted for the 7:30pm kick-off and this may force the Stormers to adopt a more pragmatic approach against a dangerous Bulls pack.
Stormers backline coach Dawie Snyman has said that despite the wet-weather conditions, the Capetonians won’t be veering too far away from the approach which has served them well up to now.
Speaking during a URC media conference on Tuesday, former Springbok flyhalf and rugby commentator Stransky said both teams are relatively evenly matched, so handling the high-pressure moments will be key.
“Hopefully the weather doesn’t put a damper on the game [because] if it is quite clear we’ll see a great game of rugby. It will suit the Stormers more [if it rains], with their big, strong front row and powerful bench,” he said.
“Despite what us backline players think, games are won and lost up front and scrumming has become such a massive part of the game … you’ll fancy Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff dominating.
“For the Bulls, Elrigh Louw and Marcell Coetzee have that ball-carrying which is spread more across the field for the Stormers. But, if it is wet and close, you’ll think that the tight phase will be a big thing and you have to think of the Stormers.
“If you have to predict, stupid to bet against Bulls because they’ve beaten Leinster away. But it’s also hard not to pick the home side … who rise to the big occasion.”
Libbok’s 87th-minute conversion of Warrick Gelant’s try after the hooter clinched a dramatic victory for the Stormers over Ulster in the URC semi-final in Cape Town on Saturday.
Bulls flyhalf Chris Smith’s drop goal in injury time sealed a quarter-final win for the Bulls over the Sharks, and the men from Pretoria then overpowered Leinster in Dublin to book a place in the all-SA final.
Stransky added: “Both teams have flyhalves who can control the game. You would think one of those two will be vying for a World Cup spot as we haven’t seen much game time from Elton Jantjies these days … and those two are putting their hands up.
“What they do well is manage space well. Chris Smith is rock solid, defends well, frees up guys outside him. He kicks well and while he maybe doesn’t do the flashy things well, he doesn’t make many mistakes.
“Libbok, on the other side, runs well, kicks well off either foot and in the big moments he has delivered. That pass on Saturday [for Warrick Gelant to score a try] was made because he is confident … coaching staff have put that confidence in him.
“Two young players who have found a way and have come to the fore. The whole game management package is what you want, and both teams have that.”