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Why Stormers will trip Sharks

2012-03-01 12:28

Cape Town - Rob Houwing believes the Stormers will extend the uneasy start to the season for the injury-hit Sharks at Newlands.

SPORT24 PICK OF THE CROP

STORMERS v SHARKS, Newlands

When: Saturday, 19:10
Referee: Mark Lawrence
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD
Long-range weather forecast: Mild, gentle breeze, chance of sprinkles.

Background:
The Stormers - not the least astute of teams, it must be said - will know full well that if they play as patchily as they did against the Hurricanes in their opening fixture, they will lose this traditionally uncompromising derby to the currently weakened but potentially still dangerous Sharks. Yet they will also know that they had these opponents’ number last season, winning both conference clashes, and most smart money is being placed on the home-town victory. That said, a successful raid by the wily Sharks would hardly count as a rank upset! But I fancy the Stormers’ big strengths, an excellent lineout and - often related - rolling maul to tilt the balance on Saturday night.

Key head-to-head:

JP Pietersen will continue his intriguing new role at outside centre ... and this ever-slippery game-breaker will come directly up against another Springbok in Juan de Jongh, fit again after missing round one through injury. The latter is a tenacious tackler, whilst no slouch as an elusive attacking factor himself, so the Stormers may well feel that their midfield will be more cohesive (and adhesive) than it was in the woolly old game against the ‘Canes.

Recent history:
The equivalent game in 2011 came in the second half of the conference season and the Stormers only tightened their grip on the group with a thumping 32-12 triumph. The Sharks were almost embarrassingly porous through the “middle” that day, as they conceded four tries, and Jean de Villiers and company cashed in gleefully as a result. Four Pat Lambie penalties was the sorry sum of their own efforts ...

Rob Houwing’s prediction:
Fierce resistance from the Sharks, rueing the absence of some essential bruisers, but Stormers by four points

SA GAME 2

CHEETAHS v BULLS, Bloemfontein

When: Saturday, 17:05
Referee: Craig Joubert
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD
Long-range weather forecast: Warm and windless

Background:
It’s pressure time for the Cheetahs after their first-round loss in Johannesburg last weekend, and they do tend to lift their game in “Bloem” when the Bulls come to town. Still, the Bulls’ own success in knocking over the Sharks suggests that even the disadvantage of being away will not necessarily jeopardise their quest to maintain unbeaten form. If the visiting pack plays with the earthy commitment they showed at Loftus, and Juandre Kruger has remembered to pack his impressive lineout “springs” again, they ought to be in business. Just as the Sharks missed some hefty customers against the Bulls last weekend, the Cheetahs may rue here not having big Coenie Oosthuizen quite ready yet to match fire with customary fire in the boiler room.

Key head-to-head:
Somehow flyhalves keep entering the equation in this category in 2012! But you have to admit, it’s hard to overlook the duel between the No 10s, youthful phenomenon Johan Goosen of the Cheetahs and Springbok incumbent Morne Steyn. Both started the season pretty impressively last weekend, even if in the case of the booming-booted Goosen he ended up narrowly on the losing side against the Lions. The easier ride, of course, is likely to go to the man more consistently on the front foot as a result of pack dominance, so my tip is Steyn to pull plenty of tactical strings. He could have the edge in short- to medium-range success off the tee, although Goosen will always be willing to have a crack from 62m!

Recent history:

There’s nobody left of the Bulls’ try-scorers when they pipped these opponents 25-23 in the corresponding game in the Free State metropolis last season – Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw and Fourie du Preez! Coincidentally, that was also a second-round affair. The Cheetahs had stormed into a 23-8 lead at one point, but the wily champions came progressively back into the picture to snatch it, in a match sadly marred by the early exit of home favourite Juan Smith to a snapped Achilles tendon – it is the injury he is still in slow rehab from.

Rob Houwing’s prediction:
Bulls by eight points

SA GAME 3

LIONS v HURRICANES, Ellis Park

When: Friday, 19:10
Referee: Steve Walsh
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD
Long-range weather forecast: Warm, gentle breeze

Background:

Traditional strugglers the Lions will be delighted to have opened their campaign with a derby win against the Cheetahs at the same venue last weekend (even if it ended up being an Elton Jantjies-orchestrated kick-fest in scoreboard terms) and doubtless sniff another victory opportunity against the vulnerable ‘Canes on the highveld. How the visiting side will feel after their scrappy Newlands reverse is hard to gauge; they were rank awful and obstructive at times in their desperation to stop the rumbling Stormers pack, but will also take heart, I guess, from the remarkable fact that at times they looked like pilfering a most unlikely triumph! But it should be two from two for the Currie Cup champions if they’re properly up for it. 

Key head-to-head:
There should be a great scrap between each side’s most “senior” loose forward: respectively Josh Strauss, the Lions captain, and the Hurricanes’ All Black-capped Victor Vito. Strauss has been shifted back to the side of the scrum after playing at No 8 against the Cheetahs, to accommodate Warren Whiteley, and how he compares to the similarly versatile Vito for work-rate and determined driving play could be an important influencer - both men offer forceful physical dimensions, tipping the scales above the 110kg mark.

Recent history:

When they met in Wellington last season, in the second-last round of conference play, the Lions were ending their four-match overseas tour, and with two excellent, unexpected wins already beneath their belts (against the Brumbies and Highlanders) found this occasion a bridge too far despite another gritty display in a 38-27 defeat. Sadly for the Lions, they simply ran out of steam – the old “one foot on the plane” syndrome -- after having opening up a 20-8 lead at one stage.

Rob Houwing’s prediction:
Lions by three points

Sport24

Comments
  • Saffa - 2012-03-01 12:34

    No @Rob - the Sharks are going to win the SA conference - all you journalists and bookies told us so??????

      S - 2012-03-01 12:58

      Saffa, according to the Bulls supporters it will be the Bullerinas, especially now that Meisiekind is back - you know, the guy that holds the SA record for Super Rugby tries scored by a center although Jacque Fourie scored many more (I'm still trying to figure that one out!)

      Heiku - 2012-03-01 13:53

      why do you care about the SA conference?

      Shnez - 2012-03-01 15:18

      My Heart says Sharks by 6 !!!

      Saffa - 2012-03-01 15:54

      @fake Saffa Way better chance of the Shars winning the conference than the blind from CT. But we all know and agree that the Bulls will take the cup, AGAIN

      Jason - 2012-03-01 17:57

      @Heiku, because if you dont win the conference or come second you dont go any further in the competition. Need me to explain the rules of Conference rugby (which started last year)?

      aubrey.gloster - 2012-03-02 08:37

      Hoe kan jy 'n liga in 'n liga hê? Die conference "wenner" beteken niks nie. Jy kan mos nie in die Currie 'n beker vir die Transvaalse spanne gee omdat een van hulle die ander meer kere gewen het? Of vir die Kaapse idiote wat WP,SWD,OP en Boland insluit 'n beker gee omdat een van hulle die ander een meer kere gewen het nie.Kom by Stormers ondersteuners of soos my Ouma al laggend alty sê: die bekerlose poefters hie hie hie hie hie hie

      S - 2012-03-02 10:45

      Aubrey, ek sal maar stadig tik want dit lyk my jy kan nie so vinnig lees nie. Laat Oom Stirrer nou mooi vir jou verduidelik hoe dit werk, want jy is nie baie nosel nie. Dit is BAIE belangrik om die conference te wen, want dit gee vir jou 'n outomatiese plek in die semi's. Kon jou span dit doen? Nee. Dan is daar nog 'n tweede kans vir die "beste verloorders", die beste drie spanne wat nie die conference kon wen nie. Kon jou span dit maak vir 'n tweede kans? Nee. Dit is dus belangrik om goeie rugby te speel in die Super 15. Kon jou span dit doen in 2011? Nee. So sjarrap asseblief totdat jy iets het om jou bek oor te rek. Op hierdie stadium het jy niks.

  • Danny - 2012-03-01 12:59

    Sorry Rob - I would love to get hold of the stuff you are smoking. Sharks will turn it around and beat the Stormers by at least 9 points. The rest you may be correct, but rthe Cheetahs could surprize.

      malcolm.molver - 2012-03-01 13:12

      I'm a staunch Sharks supporter and my heart says they'll win, but not by 9 or more. It should be closer than that.

      Lionel - 2012-03-01 13:44

      If either side wins it will not be by more than 3 points

  • Juan - 2012-03-01 13:10

    Sharks now need to fully commit and give everything in this game. it's still early days but we need to start winning. I watched the 1996 Currie cup final a few nights ago when we beat the Lions 33-15. The slick and quick passing through the hands was amazing to see. And then after about 5 passes down the line, Andre Joubert just cuts in between the centres completely against the grain at full tilt and not a hand was layed on him before scoring under the poles. Then 2 minutes later the same happens down the touch line, he puts in a chip kick and scores again. What I am saying is that everything needs to be done at full tilt. If you move faster than the opposition they won't keep up. Stop this touching and feeling and trying to analyse what the game plan of the opposition is and just go balls to the walls and play rugby!!!

      malcolm.molver - 2012-03-01 13:39

      Rugby's changed a lot since then, but damn! If the Sharks can play like that '96 side (the best Natal/Sharks side of all time) then they'll win on Saturday for sure.

      Heiku - 2012-03-01 13:56

      That '96 side and that exact final you are referring to is why I support the Sharks today

  • Juan-Carlos - 2012-03-01 13:17

    I wonder how the Stormers will get on only playing with 15 men this week ?......... Last week the ref was unbelievably one eyed ,technical penalties that even the players had not a clue what they were for !!! I mean the Hurricanes number 8 got penalised for engaging in the scrum after the front row ......ok but when was the last time you saw this called against anyone ? another thing does the truck and trailer rule no longer exist ? can you form a maul of at least 4 players in front of the ball carrier with the opposition not in contact at all and just march ahead ?

      Bootman - 2012-03-01 13:29

      As long as the Ball carrier is bound to the players in front him it doesnt matter what the opposition is doing. Except if the opposition is trying to take your legs from under you like the Canes were doing.

      Alan - 2012-03-01 13:40

      Juan, don't you mean 16. After all it is Mark Lawrence.

      malcolm.molver - 2012-03-01 13:40

      The referee for Saturday's game is Mark Lawrence. He's been biased towards the Stormers before.

      Lionel - 2012-03-01 13:43

      Come now Malcolm play nice........lol Mark Lawrence in my opinion is one of the better refrs around!!!

      Alan - 2012-03-01 13:49

      Compared to Bryce Lawrence maybe - ooh, wait, he is the ref of the year.

      David - 2012-03-01 13:53

      Just be grateful we don't have Bryce

      Alan - 2012-03-01 14:03

      Indeed. Anyway, hope it's a good game. Don't really care who wins otherwise. Hope the ref doesn't f it up.

      malcolm.molver - 2012-03-01 14:41

      Lol...anyone's better than Bryce! Even Steve Walsh!

      Johan - 2012-03-01 15:33

      its more like 14 players on the field for the stormers...i WOULDNT count Van Aswegen as a rugby player!!!!!

      Saffa - 2012-03-01 15:55

      @Bootman Bwa HA HA HA HA HA Are u a ref now??? What a joker

      Jason - 2012-03-01 18:15

      Both Duane and Spies got pinged last year for late scrum engages!

      Saffa - 2012-03-01 18:18

      @Jason It must be a real struggle for Dom Duane, i mean for someone who can't count to 3, how is he gonna handle: Touch...pause...engage

  • David - 2012-03-01 13:26

    They great thing about these derbies is that anything could happen. I think the Bulls will edge the Cheetahs but I definately won't be putting money on it. Likewise with the Stormers/Sharks game. Home ground advantage should favour the Stormers but don't be surprised if we win. Still too early to decide conference winner, give it another week or two.

      Lionel - 2012-03-01 13:34

      I agree with you David,Sharks/Stormers game is gonna be a good tightly contested match and can go either way,I also dont think home ground advantage will help!!! Bulls will be to strong for the Cheetahs but a upset there will make my weekend!!!

      David - 2012-03-01 13:37

      Don't think too many would be 'upset' if Cheetahs won

      malcolm.molver - 2012-03-01 13:41

      Another week or two? More like a month or two lol. Anything can still happen

      David - 2012-03-01 13:52

      True Malcolm. The "Super" season is getting so long we are not going to be able to tell one season from the next if Sanzar keep getting their way.

      Lionel - 2012-03-01 13:55

      Just imagine if it is the S16,even longer rugby season!!!!!!!!

      Jason - 2012-03-01 14:22

      @Rene i think you miss the point, if the sharks lose 2 in a row then that helps your bulls have a better chance of topping the conference. I think everyone is being way to safe..............i predict the Stormers are going to run away with this one. Stormers by 18.....................laugh say what you will and I will eat humble pie if im wrong come Monday!

      David - 2012-03-01 14:44

      Hope you got a big appetite Jason

  • Johan - 2012-03-01 13:31

    Clash of the no 10s! Well, Lambie looked like a school kid against Morne last week, and this coming weekend will prove that Goosen still is.

      Jack - 2012-03-02 01:42

      Morne can't tackle to save his life. Sias & Goosen are gonna run circles around your old boys. You won't beat them up front and they have far more fire power in their backs. It'll be close, but Cheetahs by 5...

      Saffa - 2012-03-02 03:20

      @jackblack Thanks Zandberg, now back on your naked sister

  • David - 2012-03-01 15:30

    Rob you are so biased. Every time the Stormers/WP play you predict them to win. Remember the CC semi. how wrong you were. I always thought that sport writers shoudl be independent. Haha. I do like the sharks but i think they will win.

  • Saffa - 2012-03-01 15:37

    HA HA HA HA HA Sharks by 15

      David - 2012-03-01 15:50

      Per half?? :-)

      Saffa - 2012-03-01 16:06

      Sorry David, per half i wanted to say

      Bootman - 2012-03-01 20:08

      David you seem to be a half wit.

      Saffa - 2012-03-01 20:19

      And Bootman rocks the blog with his chirps. What a boytjie

      David - 2012-03-01 20:35

      I hold half back Bootman, don't wanna confuse you

  • Hennie - 2012-03-02 00:33

    Any team playing against the sharks with lawrence is bound to loose,he even sets their yerseys in their locker room,that is how bias the *&^%$ is towards the sharks,

      Saffa - 2012-03-02 01:25

      @Hennie I hope you right, the Stormers got one on a plate last Sat, Kharma is a b@tch

      David - 2012-03-02 08:06

      It's amazing how everyone thinks the ref is against them. Guaranteed many Shark fan are thinking Lawrence favours Stormers.

  • aubrey.gloster - 2012-03-02 08:38

    Hoe kan jy 'n liga in 'n liga hê? Die conference "wenner" beteken niks nie. Jy kan mos nie in die Currie 'n beker vir die Transvaalse spanne gee omdat een van hulle die ander meer kere gewen het? Of vir die Kaapse idiote wat WP,SWD,OP en Boland insluit 'n beker gee omdat een van hulle die ander een meer kere gewen het nie.Kom by Stormers ondersteuners of soos my Ouma al laggend altyd sê: die bekerlose poefters hie hie hie hie hie hie

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