Christchurch - A tall order, but not impossible – that is almost the only way to describe the Stormers’ first Super Rugby tour match of the season when they take on the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday morning.
Looking back at South African teams’ visits to Canterbury since 1996, the picture is pretty bleak. Out of the 44 matches hosted by the Crusaders against teams from the Republic, they’ve lost twice and drawn twice.
That equates to a winning percentage of a staggering 91%, which is by far the best of any team against foreign opposition.
The average score between the Crusaders and South African opposition over this period is 37-19, with the New Zealanders scoring four tries to two on average.
The Cantabrians’ last defeat against a South African team was almost 13 years ago – on 22 April 2001, when the Cats won by 32-31.
Since then, the Crusaders have won 32 successive home matches against teams from South Africa.
And the last time they lost to a non-New Zealand side in Christchurch, was a decade ago, on 21 February 2004, against the Waratahs (43-19).
However, the Crusaders lost at home less than a fortnight ago and coupled with the Stormers’ superb defence – they average just 10 missed tackles per game so far, fewer than any other team – anything is possible.
“Simply put, this is a great challenge for us against a very successful Super Rugby franchise,” said Springbok and Stormers captain Jean de Villiers.
“Playing against the Crusaders is really tough, as you can note by the fact that no South African team has won there in ages.
"But that also means it’s a great challenge for us.
“If we win there we would have achieved something special, something we haven’t achieved in the past and it’s a great challenge for us as a young squad.”
15 Colin Slade, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Reynold Lee-Lo, 12 Ryan Crotty,
11 Israel Dagg, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt
Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen
Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird,
20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Kieron Fonotia
Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian
de Allende, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom,
8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4
Michael Rhodes, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra
Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17
Oliver Kebble, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis
Schreuder, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau