Stormers face daunting task
Cape Town - No team in the history of Super Rugby is as formidable at home as the Crusaders, seven time champions and hosts of the table-topping Stormers in Christchurch on Saturday.
Since rugby turned professional and the franchise system was first used in New Zealand, the Crusaders have won 91 of their 111 home games, played at a number of venues. That is a winning percentage of 82%. They have lost 16 times and drawn four home matches.
In New Zealand, the next best home record belongs to the Blues (71.7%), followed by the Hurricanes (60.6%), Highlanders (59%) and Chiefs (57.4%).
The best home record on Australian soil belongs to the Brumbies (76.6%), which is also the overall next best in the history of the competition, while the most difficult venue to win in South Africa is in Durban against The Sharks, where they win 61.8% of the times.
Only two South African teams, the Bulls (as Northern Transvaal) in 1996 and the Cats in 2001 have beaten the Crusaders at home, with the former happening in Christchurch and the latter in Nelson. In their 40 home games against South African opposition, the Crusaders have won 36, lost two and drawn two.
“We know it is going to be a massive challenge. They are a quality side with a huge amount of experience. They are not just physical but technically sound in every department,” said Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.
“We have learnt a lot from our losses last year to them, but will certainly need to up the ante if we are to maintain our unbeaten run. Accuracy and execution will be key. It’s another great opportunity for this team to test themselves against a quality outfit.”
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Owen Franks, 18 Luke Romano, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Ryan Crotty, 22 Tom Marshall
15 Johan Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gio Aplon