Cheetahs v Stormers preview

Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein, 19.10 (17.10 GMT)

It is a game of contrasts. The Cheetahs’ structured approach – including coach Rassie Erasmus’ highly publicised disco show from the stand’s rooftop – against the Stormers’ all-action counter-attacking game.

Erasmus gave the Stormers plenty of food for thought when he named Herkie Kruger, and not last season’s regular Willem de Waal, at fly-half. Add to this the selection of Ronnie Cooke on the wing and former Stormers star Marius Joubert at outside centre and it is not difficult to see why some in the Stormers camp believe he is playing selection games.

The absence of Barend Pieterse, who injured his ankle in a warm-up match against the Sharks in Durban and is most likely to miss the whole tournament, is a big blow for the Cheetahs. He is often talked about as one of the most underrated locks in the country and it is not until he is absent form the Cheetahs team that his real value is illustrated.

But Erasmus is confident that Corniel van Zyl and Darron Nell are more than capable of doing the job for the team.

Regardless of which Cheetahs team runs onto the field, the Stormers will do well to concentrate on their own game – rather than any pre-match Cheetah antics.

And the Stormers are at their best when they play the all-action counter-attacking style that thrilled the crowds around the country last year.

Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe has acknowledged the fact that his team’s best option is to make use of the brilliant backs at his disposal.

“It is always nice to have so many game breakers, it allows us to counter attack and it is a large area of our game,” Van der Merwe said.

“We do play to that [counter-attacking rugby] and it is important for the opposition not to make mistakes against us, because we do have guys that, from turnover ball, can create havoc.”

But despite the brilliance and flair of his backs, the Stormers coach knows that the team must also do the basics right and can’t expect the opposition just to hand them the ball.

“The set piece still remain very important for us. You can’t win games just from turnover ball,” he added.

Captain Luke Watson spoke of the confidence the team has in its own ability and how they are “building momentum” going into then tournament.

“We managed to find our rhythm in the latter half of the Boland game [the Stormers’ final pre-season outing],” Watson said.

“The guys started to gel and read each other. I am very happy, and very confident going into the weekend,” he added.

Prediction: This game could finish the weekend on an exciting note – with lots of action and some great tries. It is tough to call, but the Cheetahs ay just have enough in the tank this early in the season to sneak it. The Cheetahs by less than 10 points.


Cheetahs: 15 Tiger Mangweni, 14 Philip Burger, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Ronnie Cooke, 10 Herkie Kruger, 9 Falie Oelschig, 8 Kabamba Floors, 7 Juan Smith (c), 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Corniel van Zyl, 4 Darron Nell, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Ollie le Roux.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Bian Vermaak, 19 Ryno van der Merwe, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Willem de Waal, 22 Eddie Fredericks.

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Corne Uys, 12 Jean De Villiers, 11 Conrad Jantjes, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Joe van Niekerk, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Selborne Boome, 3 Eddie Andrews, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 JP Joubert, 21 Brent Russell, 22 De Wet Barry

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Touch judges: Linston Manuels (South Africa), Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

By Jan de

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