Stormers clash: No 15s in focus
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town - For vastly different reasons, respective
fullbacks Israel Dagg and Jaco Taute ought to be particularly pumped-up
customers when the Crusaders entertain the Stormers in Christchurch on
The Super Rugby encounter has plenty at stake because both
sides – more often than not among pace-setters in recent seasons – have started
Seven-time champions the Crusaders are under special
pressure after successive derby defeats to the Chiefs and Blues and not a
single log point to show yet for their troubles.
The Stormers banked a bounce-back Newlands victory over the
Hurricanes, following that undignified first-game battering at the hands of the
Lions, but still flew abroad for their traditional four-match Australasian tour
knowing it was grimly achieved and only in a late, concerted rally.
One ray of light, though, was Taute coming through his first
start of the season quite convincingly after his 11-month layoff through a
gruesome knee injury.
Signed from the Lions at the start of last season, the
Stormers faithful saw him make a pretty tentative start for his new franchise
in 2013, before he tore cruciate ligaments in a tackle to cruelly halt his
acclimatisation to fresh pastures anyway.
So the Springbok has presumably been anxious to belatedly underline
Just getting through a full Super Rugby match unscathed was
a triumph in itself for Taute, and he didn’t appear to be carrying any mental
scars after his mishap.
There were few opportunities for him to show his once-renowned
counter-attacking panache from the back, but he was solid defensively and on
top of his game from a positional point of view as well.
His effort was good enough to inspire a popular former
Stormers captain, Corne Krige (@CorneKrige6) to specifically tweet to Taute (in
Afrikaans): “Great game, old mate. I am pleased your knee held.”
If Taute has been in the personal wars and now showing
pleasing signs of emerging into daylight, the ‘Saders are likely to field a No
15 who has had issues of his own: different ones, but unusual to him.
The slippery Dagg, so often a heartbreaker for South African
fans whether it be in a Crusaders or All Blacks jersey, suffered the indignity
of being dropped from the starting XV following the 18-10 first-round loss to
the Chiefs a couple of weeks back.
But he was sharper when he appeared as a substitute in the
second half of the most recent outing against the Blues at Eden Park – despite
the Crusaders slipping up again – and it is being speculated in the New Zealand
media that he will slot in again at No 15 against the Capetonians.
With Dan Carter taking a sabbatical, the hosts have some
instability at flyhalf at present, and with neither Tyler Bleyendaal nor Tom
Taylor convincing in the slot thus far, current fullback Colin Slade will
probably move closer to the action, facilitating Dagg’s reprieve.
As with Taute, expect him to strive to claw back lost ground
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