Stormers v Western Force Preview

Newlands, Cape Town, 18.00 (16.00 GMT)


These two teams lost their opening matches, teams who were expected to perform much better than they did and have been trying all week to explain away the First Round hiccup.


But perhaps the most accurate and relevant comments to come out of both camps are that neither team is really as bad as their first up results suggest.


The Stormers have some of the most exciting backs in the competition and their loose forwards are world class.


However, as coach Kobus van der Merwe pointed out this week, the problem is with his tight forwards – who again failed to live up to expectations last week.


“Our tight five must dominate,” Van der Merwe said.


“If we don’t succeed, it doesn’t matter whether we have the best wings because we will never get them in a position where they would have an influence on the game.”


Van der Merwe has made no secret of the fact that he cracked the whip at training this week, as he tried to stir the fires of passion in his pack.


He repeatedly talked of the “intensity” they must show.


So if his tight forwards find their form, does that mean they will be guaranteed a win against the underperforming tourists?


Certainly not.


“The Western Force is not a bad team,” Van der Merwe cautioned those who suggested this should be a walk in the park for the men from Cape Town.


“We saw them [against the Highlanders] last Saturday. They have a lot more depth than last year and they are a well drilled side.


“They were a touch unlucky to have lost a home game against the Highlanders, so they will target this game as a must win.


“And for us it is absolutely critical for our campaign to win this one.”


Western Force coach John Mitchell was certainly singing from the same hymn book as his Stormers counterpart.


“The Stormers will be keen to bounce back from their loss last week, just as we are, but we see playing at Newlands as a great opportunity,” Mitchell said.


His big headache, as is the case with the Stormers, is that his tight forwards did not step up to the mark last week.


He also has some incredibly talented game breakers – Matt Giteau, at fly-half, for one.


But without the ball no amount of backline talent can save you.


Prediction: It will indeed be a case of which set of tight forwards control the game and we feel the Stormers may just have the edge, so we’ll go for a Stormers win. The Stormers by 10 to 15 points.


Teams:


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 (Capt), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Gerrie Britz, 3 Eddie Andrews, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 JD Moller
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Francois Van Der Merwe, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 JP Joubert, 21 Brent Russell, 22 De Wet Barry


Western Force: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Scott Staniforth, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Junior Palesasa, 11 Cameron Shepherd, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Matt Henjak, 8 Scott Fava, 7 Richard Brown, 6 David Pusey, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Rudi Vedelago, 3 Troy Takiari, 2 Brendan Cannon, 1 Gareth Hardy
Replacements: 16 Tai McIsaac, 17 Angus Scott, 18 Luke Doherty, 19 David Pocock, 20 Chris O’Young, 21 Scott Daruda, 22 Haig Sare


Referee: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Vinny Munro (New Zealand), Linston Manuels (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

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