Vodacom Super Rugby
'Sharks better up front'
Former Bok prop Robbie Kempson (File)
Cape Town - Brace yourself for a thriller that could be decided in the dying seconds.
That is the prediction of former Stormers and Sharks star Robbie Kempson for Saturday's Super Rugby match between the two teams at Newlands.
"It's a matter of the Sharks' attack against the Stormers' defence," said Kempson.
"The Stormers have a Springbok backline, but are not playing with a great deal of flair.
"However, the Sharks' tendency to play expansively could lead to turnover possession and create opportunities for the Stormers to counter-attack."
Kempson believes the Sharks are better equipped for the clash up front, irrespective which one of John Smit and Bismarck du Plessis runs out at hooker.
"The Sharks' pack and their front row is a better unit. They have more power up front. If Bismarck is fit they will probably pick him at hooker," he said.
"If there is any doubt whatsoever about his fitness, I believe they will start with John. I'm glad that John played so well against the Hurricanes. You can never write off any rugby player.
"John has been criticised a lot in his career, but came back strongly every time. He will continue to do that," added the former Springbok prop.
While he believes the Sharks are better up front, he is "very impressed" by the physicality shown by the Cape side.
"The only surprising thing is that they haven't really attacked with their backline. Many supporters are probably concerned that the Stormers don't really cross the try-line against good opponents," said Kempson.
"But it was the same story last year and they picked up their attack as the tournament progressed."
Kempson played for Western Province when they won the Currie Cup in 2000 and 2001. He is delighted with the success that the Cape teams have had since last year.
"The Stormers have come on in leaps and bounds. They started the process last year and have taken it to another level," he said.
As far as Saturday's opponents are concerned, Kempson singles out scrumhalf Charl McLeod as the "unsung hero" for the Sharks.
"He's keeping the Sharks on the front foot with his options and is getting the ball to the flyhalf quickly. The Sharks have strong ball-carriers and the only way of stopping that is with aggressive defence. But that's an area of the game that the Stormers enjoy."