Stormers v Chiefs Preview

Newlands, Cape Town, 18.30 (16.30 GMT)


The Stormers are indeed an enigma. They are either sublimity epitomised or obscenely shocking. In the first two rounds of this year’s competition we saw only the latter.


However, on Friday they are facing a team at the same end of the form scale, the Chiefs.


Like the Stormers camp, the Chiefs have searched for reasons to explain their poor start.


Chiefs captain Jono Gibbes was spot on when he said his team had been their own worst enemies, especially against the Hurricanes in Hamilton last Friday – a 32-39 (four tries to five) loss. And in Round One the margin was even closer, 15-21, to the Brumbies.


That secured them three bonus points, including the fact that they are (along with the Hurricanes) one of only two teams to have secured a four-try bonus point so far this season.


But bonus points alone are not good enough. It is victories that matter.


“It’s just frustrating that we’ve missed opportunities in two home games, I guess, but it’s happened and we’ve just got to keep pushing each other in training,” said Gibbes, who missed the team’s trip to South Africa because of a torn calf muscle in his left leg.


The Stormers’ problems seem to be far more acute.


Coach Kobus van der Merwe has hinted that a lack of commitment among some players could be partly to blame, saying “game breakers” along won’t win you the games.


“Somebody has to do the hard work first,” Van der Merwe said.


Captain Luke Watson has also spoken of the need for a more “committed” effort from his team this week.


But if you really want to accurately assess the state of the team then read the local media and you will see what the mood is like in Cape Town. The fickle Cape media has already started calling for the coach’s head … after just two rounds.


After such poor starts it was inevitable that there would be changes in the two teams, although the Chiefs’ changes were mostly forced on them through injury.


However, the changes to the Stormers team goes to the heart of the team’s performance … or rather lack of performance.


Players like Eddie Andrews, Schalk Brits, Naas Olivier and Gio Aplon are paying the price. The Stormers coaching staff are looking at steadying the ship by going for less glamorous, but trustworthy, players – the likes of Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, Peter Grant and former Bulls age-group star Dylan des Fountain.


Bigger is better, seems to be the new call from the Cape.


But only time will tell as they face a Chiefs side that are minus their injured captain, Gibbes, utility back Sosene Anesi (fractured neck), centre Richard Kahui and inside back Tasesa Lavea.


Prediction: The Chiefs always struggle on the road, they have injury problems and look a lost cause. The Stormers have not been much better, but they often reacted to criticism and this week they have come in for lots of it. Expect the Stormers to bounce back. The Stormers by 10 to 15 points.


Teams:


Stormers: TBC


Chiefs: 15 Dwayne Sweeney, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Niva Ta’auso, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Roy Kinikinilau, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Jamie Nutbrown, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Steven Bates (c), 5 Toby Lynn, 4 Kristian Ormsby, 3 Ben Castle, 2 Tom Willis, 1 Simms Davison.
Replacements: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Nathan White, 18 Andrew van der Heidjen, 19 Marty Holah, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Murray Williams, 22 Anthony Tahana


Referee: Paul Marks (Australia)
Touch judges: Brett Bowden (Australia), Willie Roos (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

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