Vodacom Super 14

Balance of power shift in SA?

2010-05-23 22:31
Juan de Jongh (Gallo Images)
Stephen Nell

Cape Town – The Stormers are ready to make more history and swing the balance of power in South African rugby their way at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday.

Coach Allister Coetzee was clear about the goal after his side’s 25-6 semi-final win over the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday night.

“Some athletes go to the Olympic Games to compete and content to run in the finals, while others go there like Usain Bolt to win gold medals and break records,” said Coetzee.

“This Stormers side has a lot of respect for the Bulls. They are the best team in the Southern Hemisphere, but we’re not heading there just to run the race. We’ll make sure we’re well prepared and give it a full go.”

South African fans are finally getting the enormous north-south clash everyone wanted on May 15 in their final league game.

However, the Bulls were already certain of topping the log then and used the opportunity to rest key players. Their comfortable 39-24 win over the Crusaders vindicated the decision.

The Stormers were equally impressive with their clinical win over the Waratahs to reach the final for the first time in their history. Now only one game remains to determine who the best of the best is.

“This team has a lot of character. You can see a team’s commitment and character in how it defends and to stop the Waratahs from scoring a try against us twice in a season is a very good feat. The team’s work-rate and physical intensity is very good,” said Coetzee.

The Stormers coach believes the match against the Bulls will be a “great occasion” for South African rugby.

“With all due respect to the Kiwis and Aussies, we now have the dominant sides in the Super 14 and rugby in general. We dare not let this opportunity slip through our fingers,” said Coetzee.

“The Bulls have played in numerous semi-finals and finals and have been the pace-setters. They have arguably the most experienced side in the competition.

“You just have to look at their structures and how they dominate. But we are also getting there with our structures. We kick and defend well, the set phases are working and with the ball in hand there is something special about the way rugby is played in the Cape.”

Juan de Jongh made that point with his wonderful try against the Waratahs.

The Springbok centre cut through the Aussies’ defence with nifty footwork for a try in the 25th minute that proved a huge factor.

“I think Juan played well, but he has to front up next week against Wynand Olivier, who is the Springbok incumbent. That will be the real test,” said Coetzee.

De Jongh against Olivier is one of several interesting duels that are expected.

Andries Bekker and Victor Matfield will finally meet in the lineouts, while Duane Vermeulen will also have the opportunity to measure himself against Pierre Spies.

With Gerhard van den Heever back from suspension, he and Bryan Habana will also go head to head on the wing.

The Stormers are set to be at full strength, with prop JC Kritzinger possibly in contention for a place in the squad of 22. He has been sidelined for the past few weeks with a calf injury.

Read more on:    bulls  |  stormers  |  super 14

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