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    Huge week for Stormers, Bulls

    2012-05-21 07:19
    Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
    Cape Town – Fiery Friday in Hamilton and Super Saturday in Durban ... that is the tantalising scenario for Week 14 of the Super Rugby competition.

    GALLERY: Past weekend in pictures

    These cities stage massively influential matches this weekend, in terms of the race to finish top overall, as first the Chiefs entertain the Bulls and then the spotlight shifts back to South Africa itself for the coastal derby a day later between the Sharks and Stormers at Mr Price Kings Park.

    You’d have to draw straws, frankly, to try to determine which fixture is the more important or appealing.

    And if you were the log-leading Stormers or one of their supporters, for instance, you would face the additional dilemma of deciding what result might be better in the earlier showdown at Waikato Stadium.

    A Bulls victory there would be useful for the Cape franchise in terms of taking off some of the Chiefs’ heat on the overall ladder – the New Zealanders are level on points with the Stormers and second only on the grounds of fewer wins – whereas the Chiefs winning would potentially make the task of topping the SA conference for the playoffs phase that little bit easier for Jean de Villiers and company.

    The Stormers currently hold a two-point edge over great domestic rivals the Bulls, whom they meet in an unenviable second successive away derby a week on from Saturday’s visit to the Shark Tank.

    Maybe the “dream” Hamilton result on Friday, from a Stormers point of view, is a low-scoring draw, with both sides earning just two points each for their troubles – an unlikely prospect as there hasn’t been one stalemate yet this season despite some very close score-lines.

    As for the Bulls, whatever the outcome in their final overseas match against the Chiefs, they will almost certainly be quietly rooting for a Sharks triumph in Durban, as the in-form host side there remains in sixth place overall and still six points behind the men from Loftus as things stand.

    That said, another Sharks win – it would be their fourth on the trot in what has been a commendable resurgence – coupled with a second tour defeat in succession for the Bulls, would draw John Plumtree’s charges right into what would suddenly become a genuine three-way tussle for conference supremacy.

    The Sharks, it mustn’t be forgotten, may have played one more match than each of the Stormers and Bulls, but they are the only ones of the trio still to have a bye up their sleeve ... and the automatic four points that will bring.

    Just like the Stormers, the Bulls are getting ominously low on fit loose forwards, and tour fatigue may be a factor as they tackle the Chiefs – by contrast, fresh off a bye – in the wake of the loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin where they found some mojo a bit too late.

    At least they have a much better recent record against these opponents than they do against mini-hoodoo side the Highlanders: the Bulls have won the last four tussles against the Chiefs, including one in the enemy stronghold and the one-sided Loftus final of 2009 (61-17).

    Meanwhile there will be a certain clash of styles, if you like, when the Sharks do battle with the Stormers – the former are having little difficulty crossing the whitewash, as reflected in bonus-point victories from their last two matches, whilst the latter keep grinding out tense wins without ever quite managing to run riot on the scoreboard.

    The Stormers’ fine defence and muscularity in contact generally remain key strings to their bow, and if the Sharks are in undoubted good form with three wins on the trot, the Capetonians’ acting captain De Villiers was quick to remind on Saturday night that they are on a remorseless victory habit too – they have come out tops four times in succession since losing to the Crusaders in Christchurch back in mid-April.

    These are the remaining fixtures for the four sides involved in this weekend’s two “main event” matches:

    Stormers: Sharks (a), Bulls (a), Lions (h), Cheetahs (a), Rebels (h)

    Chiefs: Bulls (h), Blues (a), Highlanders (a), Crusaders (h), Hurricanes (a)

    Bulls: Chiefs (a), Stormers (h), Cheetahs (h), Sharks (a), Lions (h)

    Sharks: Stormers (h), Lions (a), bye, Bulls (h), Cheetahs (h).

    *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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    Fixtures

    13 February 2015
    • Crusaders v Melbourne Rebels, Christchurch 08:35
    • Brumbies v Reds, Canberra 10:40
    • Lions v Hurricanes, Johannesburg 19:10
    14 February 2015
    • Blues v Chiefs, Albany 08:35
    • Sharks v Cheetahs, Durban 17:05
    • Bulls v Stormers, Pretoria 19:10
    15 February 2015
    • Waratahs v Western Force, Sydney 07:05

    Results

    02 August 2014
    26 July 2014
    19 July 2014
    12 July 2014
    11 July 2014
    06 July 2014
    05 July 2014
    04 July 2014
    28 June 2014
    27 June 2014
    31 May 2014
    30 May 2014
    24 May 2014
    23 May 2014
    18 May 2014
    17 May 2014
    16 May 2014
    11 May 2014
    10 May 2014
    09 May 2014
    03 May 2014
    02 May 2014
    26 April 2014
    25 April 2014
    19 April 2014
    18 April 2014
    12 April 2014
    11 April 2014
    05 April 2014
    04 April 2014
    29 March 2014
    28 March 2014
    22 March 2014
    21 March 2014
    15 March 2014
    14 March 2014
    08 March 2014
    07 March 2014
    01 March 2014
    28 February 2014
    23 February 2014
    22 February 2014
    21 February 2014
    15 February 2014

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