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Stormers may struggle first up

2012-04-03 22:38

Cape Town - To suggest a year or two back that the Stormers try to emulate an overseas tour points tally of compatriots the Cheetahs would have been considered stupid.

After all, the Free Staters have long been renowned as atrocious travellers to Australasia whilst the Newlands-based outfit, by contrast, have often returned with productive hauls and some famous triumphs.

But the Cheetahs have suddenly - and very commendably - unburdened themselves of that reputation in 2012, courtesy of a two-wins-from-four performance in Australia and New Zealand (one victory in each country) and healthy bundle of 11 log points out of a possible 20 abroad.

Frankly, that is the sort of return the title-aspirant Stormers, leading the SA charge again this year, may quietly view as a decent tally themselves in the current campaign, considering that tour victories have never exactly come dime a dozen for teams from our shores.

Put it this way: 11 points or thereabouts would almost certainly keep the presently unbeaten Capetonians well in contention in both their conference and the overall picture, bearing in mind that when they return they will have all of seven matches left within our borders (four at Newlands) ahead of the playoff phase.

I suggested on Cape Talk this week that two wins plus a couple of bonus points may well be the most realistic scenario for the Super Rugby pace-setters, as they contemplate a tour itinerary which begins with the overall second-placed Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday (09:35 SA time) before the Crusaders, Reds and Force are also tackled in that order.

Some people have suggested to me subsequently that this seems a pretty conservative target and that three victories is more realistic - time will tell.

Part of my reasoning is that I suspect the Highlanders may just prove a bridge too far this weekend, even while taking into account that the Stormers are admirably hard to dismantle these days.

The high-riding New Zealand south islanders will be entertaining a side who have just undertaken the most gruelling travel of all in Super Rugby: Cape Town to Dunedin, featuring as it does a peculiar number of transit stops and plane-changes.

Coupled with that is the fact that the Stormers come off successive derbies; the first against the Lions in Johannesburg which required an extraordinary tackle count by the visitors to get over the line, and then the narrow victory over the Bulls in a match widely lauded as having been of Test-match intensity.

And while the frisky young Stormers pack was considered to have passed possibly its most acid examination yet against the men from Loftus, big Jamie Mackintosh and company loom as an even bigger challenge, potentially - certainly in the scrummaging department which has traditionally been a proud pillar of their game-plan.

I believe the Stormers, in a nutshell, will do fantastically well to prevail at Forsyth Barr Stadium, given the circumstances preceding the match-up ... and nil-one down in tour results terms, if that happens, generally means that a bounce-back of two wins from the next three fixtures would be banked quite gleefully.

I also think the tourists will have a better chance - unusually - of knocking over the iconic Crusaders a week later than the Highlanders this Saturday.

Jean de Villiers’s side will be a tad fresher from a jet-lag point of view by then, while the slightly misfiring Cantabrians will have just done a long haul themselves from playing the Bulls at altitude (this weekend’s feature game in South Africa).

The more optimistic of Stormers supporters, I’m sure, contemplate victories in Australia against both the Reds (presently at sixes and sevens as defending champions) and the Force.

Again, I would caution that one win there would be a satisfactory outcome – the Brisbane-based champions may well have some of their injured or suspended backline stars back by then, whilst the Force thrashing the very Reds in Perth last weekend is a stark reminder that the current competition boasts few genuine easy-beats.

Yes, do a “Cheetahs” on tour and the Stormers will still be doing just fine, thank you ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Sport24

Comments
  • Johan - 2012-04-03 23:04

    The only bonus points they will get is when the lose by 7 points!

      Jean - 2012-04-04 02:59

      Soos die Bulls!?Go Stormers,Sharks en CRUSADERS!

      Terence - 2012-04-04 06:19

      I agree Johan. Things will be very different away from Newlands.

      Saffa - 2012-04-04 08:04

      Not sure if you chaps have watched the previous years tournies? The facts are: The Stormers travel very well, and in some years have a better record AWAY from home. There was a time when many of us felt the Stormers should play ALL their games on the road, as far away from Newlands as possible - such was the difference between home and away performances. So are these predictions based on ANYTHING OTHER THAN WISHFUL THINKING Bulls gnomes? @Terence and @Johan seem to spend very little time worrying about their own team, and all of their time wishing and praying the Stormers fall short - hahahahahhahaha. So what are you chaps going to do if the Stormers DON'T fail? That said: The Landers game is going to be a tough one to pull through from whatever way one looks at it.

      Pierre - 2012-04-04 08:30

      Stormers are pace setters this year. Awesome team! Awesome supporters! Awesome defence! Awesome new President!

      Jason - 2012-04-04 09:04

      Morning Saffa, i have a sneaking suspicion that the youngsters in the Stormers side are going to be to naive to understand the impact of travelling and expectations. I think youthful exuberance will shine through and they will go out 150% Stormers to win!

      Saffa - 2012-04-04 09:18

      @Jason - Morning :) That is the benefit of having such a young bunch in the forwards especially......When you're 20 years old your body heals in 48 hours.....all the bruises, knocks and niggles magically disappear overnight and you are fighting fit in hours......(as one gets older....ask me....lol) A young forward pack is always going to give a team an advantage in this respect. (Older players with experience are beneficial of course - but their experience helps little if their bodies are crocked....)

      Lance - 2012-04-04 09:23

      I guess Johan is a Bloubul....no rocket science that one, lol.

      René - 2012-04-04 09:41

      Saffa, I saw your comments on the TW appointment, I also commented but mine was subsequently removed (LoL).... I think you guys have reason to be upset, since he is the only reason Rassie left, he was also a main contributor in the cancellation of the Saracens match. My take on the man, he is more of a political player and do not take rugby's best interest at heart. IMHO, nepotism and favouritism will be his main 'objective'. I see more good qualilty players leaving WPRU as a result - I do hope I'm wrong!

      Saffa - 2012-04-04 10:08

      @Rene - we agree on something? Haul out the frikkin Kodak camera :) Let's capture the moment... I didn't see your comments, but I certainly know how I feel about this appointment. The really sad thing: There is a MASSIVE pool of competent, dedicated and moral rugby administrators down here - of ALL races who get pushed to the sidelines.....THESE are the folk who should be running the union.

  • Lionel - 2012-04-04 07:05

    I still maintain if we can get between 12-15 points on tour,we would have done exceptionally well....Good luck my boys!!!!!!

      Pierre - 2012-04-04 08:34

      Exceptional team means exceptional results! 12 to 15 really average for such an awesome team lead by such an awesome, visionary new president!

      Lionel - 2012-04-04 09:03

      Once again awesome comment from the awesome peanut gallery!!!

  • Marius Haman - 2012-04-04 07:27

    Indeed

  • morneoosthuizen - 2012-04-04 08:16

    Good luck Stormers. Make all your supporters proud. The team has momentum, and the energy amongst the players are really good. You can see that on, and off the field. Keep up the good work!

  • Bootman - 2012-04-04 08:49

    When the Stormers beat the Canes everyone said that the true test will be the Sharks..........passed. Then they said the true test will be the Blues.......passed. Then the Lions were going to give them a rugby lesson.....still waiting. Then the flowergirls of SA Rugby were going to embarras them in front of their own supporters..........yawn. Now it's the Highlanders. We know one thing about the Highlanders, they can be beaten. The Brumbies showed us that. We know one thing about the Stormers, they can win overseas. taking these two factors into consideration, would anyone want to bet their houses on a Highlanders victory?

      Jason - 2012-04-04 09:06

      Nice!

      Saffa - 2012-04-04 09:12

      @Bootman - I reckon they would bet their houses in a heartbeat, it's when you ask them to bet their years supply of Brannas on a Landers win that they might falter.....

      Bootman - 2012-04-04 09:25

      Saffa you have to remember one thing............a case of Wellingtons is worth much more than a cardboard box.

      Ian - 2012-04-04 14:45

      Is that the Peach or Original flavour chutney?

  • Lance - 2012-04-04 09:24

    On a realsitic note...I think we will lose game one...but win the rest ! Go Stormers !

  • neil.j.gailis - 2012-04-04 13:03

    I think the Stormers will do well this weekend but may struggle come 60 mins on the clock. We do have plenty of youth in the team which will help them. I am a stanch supporter so hope we win by more than 7 points.

  • Saffa - 2012-04-04 14:59

    ijh

  • Gary - 2012-04-04 20:02

    The closed roof in Dunedin will provide a great spectacle,the Stormers forwards have provided a solid platform and Saturday will be no different,if you are a true Stormer's supporter you believe you can win every game,otherwise why support the team in the first place,winners,whether it be in sport or life in general always believe we will prevail,success breeds jealousy but to all those South African's show a little patriotism even if you are a bull's supporter!

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