Cape Town - The Stormers face the daunting prospect of ending a two-match sequence of defeats when they host the Sharks in their Super Rugby match at Newlands on Saturday evening.
Another defeat for the Stormers, particularly against the Sharks, the current SA Conference log-leaders, and the chances of topping the season-ending log again for a third year in a row will vanish into the Newlands night air on Saturday.
Apart from the poor return of two wins after six matches, the Stormers are also preoccupied with changing their playing style from ultra defensive to a more balanced approach in which the players' attacking instincts are allowed to come to the fore.
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While the Stormers have been looking to find the balance, their set-piece has hardly been a model of consistency and all of these variables will have to be in place against a quality side like the Sharks, if they hope the salvage a win.
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers feels his team should persevere with the intention to offer more on attack instead of reverting to the dour defensive pattern that made them SA Conference winners for the past two seasons.
"We are not going to change what we started. It was what we decided as a group last year," said De Villiers.
"We know how we want to play, and we are not going to change everything just because of one or two defeats.
"We will stick with what we’re doing and hope it works.
"You have to look at the way we played holistically, and not just at the result (last week). If you look at the two tries we conceded, it was an easy 14 points for them (the Cheetahs). We were very close, and it’s not as if we’re playing bad rugby, we are just making crucial errors and we let it slip last week."
Like the Stormers, the Sharks have also been plagued by a steady string of injuries but their coach John Plumtree feels the physicality of the home side poses the biggest challenge. He feels that the Sharks' physical capacity may be slightly compromised with the loss of the injured loosie Jacques Botes, who has been in great form of late. He has flanker Jean Deysel coming back from injury and has lined him up for a substitute's role.
"Losing Jacques (Botes), given the form that he was in, is a big blow for us," said Plumtree. "We are very happy to have Jean Deysel coming back in.
"He (Deysel) was playing really good rugby before he got injured and his return is a timely boost for us.
"Against the Stormers you need that physicality and he'll come off the bench and provide that."
Kick-off is at 17:05 on Saturday.
15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Damian de Allende, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Gio Aplon, 10. Gary van Aswegen, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Michael Rhodes, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. De Kock Steenkamp, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Pat Cilliers, 18. Gerbrandt Grobler, 19. Nizaam Carr, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Kurt Coleman, 22. Cheslin Kolbe
15. Francois Steyn, 14. Sean Robinson, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Meyer Bosman, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Keegan Daniel (captain), 7. Ryan Kankowski, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Kyle Cooper, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Anton Bresler, 19. Jean Deysel, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Riaan Viljoen, 22. Odwa Ndungane