Stormers: ‘Bite bullet’ time

2012-05-30 16:21

Cape Town - Down to bare bones in some positions after several selection hammer blows this week, the conference-leading Stormers are clearly going to have to strive for what would be a “famous” victory against Super Rugby arch-rivals the Bulls on Saturday.

That might sound overly dramatic, considering that as recently as last season the Cape side won the corresponding fixture, and also that they’ve already bagged the first-round meeting at Newlands in 2012.

But the injury-enforced composition of their side for this weekend’s critical Loftus date is such that the dice is only loading by the day in favour of the Bulls getting a healthy scent of opposition vulnerability and making it count (perhaps even ruthlessly?) on the scoreboard.

If it never rains but it pours, the news on Wednesday that the most senior first-choice Stormers forward of recent weeks, Andries Bekker, had joined the casualty list for as many as five weeks only gave impressive weight to that theory.

Keep in mind that in-form fullback Joe Pietersen also failed to restore his fitness in time for the north-south crunch, and that earlier in the week their blossoming loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff was plucked away for “priority” duty with the Baby Boks.

Even the most dyed-in-the-wool of Stormers supporters will probably acknowledge that on paper, their side will warrant going in as underdogs, despite ongoing two-point supremacy on the table.

The XV - and, indeed, entire match 22 - announced by coach Allister Coetzee on Wednesday certainly reveals hallmarks in certain areas of a “B-side” flavour as 15 weeks of gruelling activity takes a savage toll at present.

Particularly as far as the pack is concerned, you might argue that there are some comparisons to be made with the “Bulls B” side chosen two years ago for a pre-knockout game against the Stormers at Newlands, the visitors already safe in the knowledge that they had log-topping status and a home semi-final.

Then, the Stormers, eventual losing finalists to the fuller-complement Bulls, still needed to win with a bonus point to seal their own home semi, and duly saw off the depleted side from Pretoria 38-10 with the required four tries.

Circumstances are entirely different this time, with the game likely to have a strong bearing on who tops the conference after ordinary season, so of more customary importance to both sides.

But if you had examined the Stormers pack -- and accompanying, five-strong list of forward reserves -- for the latest encounter right at the outset of the current season, you might have been forgiven for suspecting that it was their second-string combo.

Keep in mind, of course, that players like Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi have since made gigantic strides in a short time, but the fact remains that in early February you would not have banked on either greenhorn being a “must pick” for regular Super Rugby starts.

The lock pairing, for instance, might reasonably have been expected at that fledgling stage of the season to comprise Bekker and Rynhardt Elstadt - they had been the successful main second-rowers in the 2011 competition.

As for the rest of the tight five, veteran journeyman Deon Carstens and fresh-faced tighthead Frans Malherbe being the props would hardly have been a fait accompli ... and if you had been told that for a blood-and-thunder, late-campaign tussle at Loftus the loose trio would be one Jebb Sinclair, Kolisi and an Elstadt restored out of necessity to back row duty, you might have been excused for thinking your informant badly needed his head read.

No sign at all of Messrs Burger, Vermeulen and Koster? It would all have seemed so surreal ... ditto a bench for the Bulls away challenge including such surnames as Armand, Roux and Fenton-Wells!

Perhaps the lone bastion of assuredness lies at hooker, where the seasoned, bulldozing Tiaan Liebenberg is at his post for an intriguing showdown with Chiliboy Ralepelle.

If there is one consolation from a Stormers perspective, it is that neither talent nor street-wisdom are too glaringly absent from the patchwork eight selected, although an almighty effort and fierce collective resolve will be required to at least “hold out” the home unit.

As if to further add to the theme of setback and uncertainty, captain Jean de Villiers again did not train on Wednesday as he is nursing flu.

Asked by Sport24 if the Bok midfielder would, indeed, be ready for an intense 80 minutes of combat in Highveld conditions, coach Coetzee went out of his way, understandably, to sound upbeat.

“I’m very confident he’ll be alright. It won’t be a problem - Jean felt a helluva lot better this morning. No concerns whatsoever. He felt the effects on Monday already and is over the worst.”

With midfield resources not exactly buxom in the Stormers camp, that seemed comforting news to supporters, especially as there will only be two backline reserves at Loftus and neither of them (Louis Schreuder and Burton Francis) a centre.

If De Villiers should run out of puff in the closing minutes on Saturday, either of Bryan Habana or Peter Grant could be switched into emergency midfield duty.

But the Stormers have probably had enough of emergencies for the time being ...



15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 CJ Stander, 6 Dewald Potgieter, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling

Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Rayno Gerber, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Francois Venter


15. Gio Aplon, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Jebb Sinclair, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. De Kock Steenkamp, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. Deon Carstens

Substitutes: 16. Deon Fourie, 17 Brok Harris, 18. Quinn Roux, 19. Don Armand, 20. Nick Fenton-Wells, 21. Louis Schreuder, 22. Burton Francis

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • PienkMasjien - 2012-05-30 16:29

    The Bulls gonna beat you like a runaway slave

      moeks.petersen - 2012-05-30 16:33

      Ja ek dink di bulle gan hulle n hell of n game gie

      Stirrer - 2012-05-30 16:36

      Yeah right, beat the Stormers second team. What an accomplishment that will be :D

      BlouJob - 2012-05-30 16:41

      Klaar verskonings. B span. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-05-30 16:49

      Bulls going to beat them like a red-headed step child

      Schalk - 2012-05-30 16:49

      Geen verskonings...Dis feite as jy jou poeier kwas neersit en agter die spieel kas uitkom en kyk wat aangaan in die regte wereld sal jy sien dat ouens soos Vermeulen, Burger, Bekker, Pietersen ens...enige dag n Bulls span sal maak want dis quality spelers - so dus n Span sonder Spies, Juandre, Zane ens sal mos nie julel beste wees nie?

      Schalk - 2012-05-30 16:50

      en dus mos egter hoekom julle dan gaan en ouens soos hougaardt, Sadie, Engelbrecht, Zane ens gaan koop by ander unies...

      BlouJob - 2012-05-30 16:59

      Sadie was n mors van geld.

      Stirrer - 2012-05-30 18:49

      Tokkie, nou confuse jy my. Toe die Stormers verlede jaar die Bulls op hulle moer gegee het, was julle baie gou om te skree "Dit was ons B-span!". Was dit toe ook net 'n flou verskoning? Of geld daar verskillende reëls vir julle? Wat gaan julle verskoning wees as die Stormers dalk die Bulls Saterdag pak gee? (Vreemder dinge het al gebeur...). Gaan jy ook "man up" en jou pak vat? Of gaan dit weer die ref wees, die wind was te sterk, daar was 'n vorentoe pass, dit was te koud, dit was te warm, Olivier se hare was deurmekaar, die Bulls het "gerus", of wat?

      Harold - 2012-05-30 18:56

      Those are all Stormers excuses. We won't dare use those.

  • Pomene - 2012-05-30 16:41

    Time will tell ..............none of the comments here count. Yes it is nice and good stirring,........but time will tell. It is however only a very strong Stormer supporte who will believe this to be a definate win for one,an easy win secondly and/or that the Bulls will be lying down. Be aware everywhere will be covered with SH_T at Loftus around 21h00!!! One can only hope and pray things go well !! GO STORMERS !!!

  • Acta - 2012-05-30 16:42

    Dinge loop heavy skeef! Daar moes voorsorg vir die goed gewees het. Ons moet speel met die kaarte wat ons, onself uitgedeel het. @Rene, sien alweer vir Rob dans in sy volle feathers and leathers. Rob for mascot! Stormer4life!!!!!

      Japjapjap - 2012-05-30 20:19

      @acta- alles was nog altyd heavy skeef daar onder??

  • Emile - 2012-05-30 16:47

    What about the injuries to the Bulls? Bekker isn't really such a big blow. Last week he was poor again and in most tough matches he simply dissapears. I really hope the Boks will go without him as well. We have enough good locks playing 80min and doing there bit all round the park. If I remember correctly, Bekker was also badly exposed in last year's final clash with the Bulls. I think Kolisi's availability makes up double for Bekker's loss. I really rate Kolisi. Going to be the local match of the season and with the exception of the Sharks, most of the boks will be on the park on Saturday. Let's hope for no serious injuries for the Bok team's sake.

      Stormkaap - 2012-05-30 18:30

      Emile what is your take on Spies..and Wynand. You dont really rate Bekker, so i'd like to know what you think of them.

      bfvillet - 2012-05-31 01:15

      agree bekker has always faded and rarely completes a season be it locally or internationally think the forwards might be a bit more hard nosed with steenkamp who has never let them down might work to our advantage.

  • OOSTHUIZEN.GAZZA - 2012-05-30 17:46

    Ons het baie beserings stem saam mag die beste span wen ,al kry ons ook net n bonus punt sal doen ,maar ek dink ons gaan die pink manne n ding of 2 wys ,agter langs is ons heel ok ,miskien voorlangs het hulle die edge met hulle springbok voor ry otherwise dink ek heel happy met die span ,eben ,elstadht,liebenberg,kolisi is terug en sal hulle aan vat dit gaan nie ,soos teen die sharks wees nie .ons het met deon fourie op 6 flank gespeel ,kolisi is terug ,sal natuurlik weer baie geskopery wees van die bulls se kant af ma pasop vir aplon go stormers julle kan dit doen en na die 3 weke breek al die bulls manne kom ons manne terug wat dan ?wees gewaarsku vrae ma vir fourie du preez as burger n patty van jou maak

  • Johan - 2012-05-30 19:11

    Hierdie julle storie laat my dink aan 'n game teen die Blues verlede jaar toe die jong manne die ouens in New Zeeland pak gegee het....Die Stormers span gaan heelwat anders lyk vir die laaste 3 naweke voor die uitspeel rondtes en dalk is dit goed dat hierdie ysters so bietjie rus! Stormers Groete

  • dave.reyneke - 2012-05-30 19:16

    Ai manne As die game op papier gespeel sou word. lyk dit of my span n redelike kans het op n "full house" punte. Maar soos ons weet word dit op gras gespeel en die uitslag is eers daar ne die "fat lady" gesing het Bulls Groete

  • Quintin Rowan - 2012-05-30 19:32

    Sondag sal daar in pretoria pienk koei steak op afslag verkoop word die way stormers hulle gaan slag op loftus

  • Provence - 2012-05-30 20:44

    This dream of winning at Loftus could turn into a nightmare. Our backs to the wall, come out fighting or be stampeded to death. Miracles still happen, look Spies is still in a rugby team, so there is hope for us.

  • Eddie - 2012-05-31 10:14

    Nou hoekom word die Kanadees weer ingespan?, Nick Felton Wells moet eerder speel in sy plek en Rohan Kitshoff verdien dit eerder om te speel in Kolisi se plek die naweek, kyk hoe het hulle perform in die Vodacom Beker

  • Willem - 2012-05-31 11:34

    Spelling mistake in the title.... Stormers: ‘Bite a bull’ time

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