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Stormers to be too strong!

2012-03-23 09:37

Cape Town - Rob Houwing, in his SA Super Rugby Week 5 preview, tips the Stormers to retain their unbeaten run - despite a gutsy Lions derby effort.

SPORT24 PICK OF THE CROP

LIONS v STORMERS, Johannesburg

When: Saturday, 19:10
Referee: Glen Jackson (SA)
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

Long-range weather forecast:
Cloudy, mild, chance of light shower.

Background:
Even some diehard Lions fans, I’m sure, will concede that the eternally well-drilled Stormers, while not unbeatable, warrant the label of favourites for this derby clash. Of course a Lions win is possible: anything is in all-SA meetings! But the form book strongly suggests that the visitors and conference leaders ought to get over the line, extending their unbeaten record to four matches. The Lions, after all, come off successive losses to the Hurricanes and Sharks after their season-opening victory over the now-improving Cheetahs. Plus they have a significantly greater list of crocks at present, whilst the Stormers have adapted quite seamlessly to short-term life without Schalk Burger. 

Key head-to-head:
If you like a “direct” approach in your flyhalves, look no further than the meeting on Saturday between two now reasonably peripheral Springboks, BUTCH JAMES of the Lions and the Stormers’ PETER GRANT. Neither will be too afraid to have a dart at his opposite number’s channel with ball in hand. But we also know that these staunch physical specimens bring more varied skills to the party as well. Grant may prove the cooler customer and might benefit from cleaner ball against the injury-hit Lions; will Butchie lose his rag at some stage in the derby furnace, leading with the shoulder in the tackle?

Recent history:
The Stormers won both clashes in the maiden season of conference play last year, first by a desperately narrow 19-16 in a forgettable Newlands meeting in round two (the Stormers had had a first-weekend bye) and then more convincingly 33-19 in Johannesburg - you guessed it, they got three tries to be deprived of the bonus point.

Rob Houwing’s prediction:
I would be surprised if the Lions, despite their various staffing disruptions, “leak” too badly here; they have a bit of a habit historically of depriving the Capetonians of key, bonus-point wins at Ellis Park at either Super Rugby or Currie Cup level! But my money remains reasonably firmly on the visitors: Stormers by nine points?  

SA GAME 2

WARATAHS v SHARKS, Sydney


When: Saturday, 06:35 SA time
Referee: Chris Pollock (NZ)
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

Long-range weather forecast:
Partly cloudy, mild, gentle breeze.

Background:
The Sharks have picked up a head of steam at last, with successive wins – including a particularly encouraging one over champions the Reds – ahead of their tour. So they open in good mental fettle against the Waratahs who, conversely, will be feeling a little fragile after their shock home reverse to the Force and a chorus of boos from their grumpy supporters. If the Waratahs are suitably stung by that, they’ll be a dangerous foe, and perhaps also fancy themselves to be stronger in the final quarter if it’s ding-dong up to that point, given that Keegan Daniel and company may not quite have found their travel legs. 

Key head-to-head:
Like that proverbial diesel engine they so often speak of in rugby (and farming, naturally), the Sharks’ Springbok incumbent tighthead JANNIE DU PLESSIS has been a notably slow starter to the 2012 season. Might this be the occasion when the good doc’s motor finally roars into life? It would be a timely occurrence against Waratahs captain and co-international BENN ROBINSON, his nuggety rival in the home team’s No 1 shirt who has often troubled SA “right-shoulder” specialists in the past.

Recent history:
Last season’s meeting came fairly late in the campaign in Durban, with the Sharks prevailing 26-21 after an attractive, topsy-turvy contest marked by JP Pietersen’s backline gusto which earned him the man-of-the-match award. The last Sydney contest a year earlier, however, went the Waratahs’ way 25-21 during the Sharks’ appalling start to the campaign when they went nought-from-five before a spirited tourney comeback.

Rob Houwing’s prediction:
There is good reason to believe that the ‘Tahs will “catch a wake-up” to a good extent in this fixture, considering their unexpected humbling at the hands of the Force. But the fact remains that they’ve now lost three out of four - I fancy the Sharks to have enough ammunition to storm the home fortress, and win by around three points.

SA GAME 3

CRUSADERS v CHEETAHS, Christchurch


When: Saturday, 08:35 SA time
Referee: Keith Brown (NZ)
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

Long-range weather forecast:
Partly cloudy, mild, moderate breeze.

Background:
Even the Aussie commentators went into unusual rapture over a South African team when the Cheetahs, refusing to settle for a 26-26 stalemate, stuck to their attack-minded guns to the bitter end in Melbourne and were rewarded with a last-gasp victory over the Rebels. But the fact remains that the Crusaders are a hugely different kettle of fish, and making an emotional Christchurch homecoming! Not only that, but flyhalf genius Dan Carter ought to get some game-time off the bench, so it all adds up to a true toughie for the men from Bloem.  Oh yes, and Keith Brown’s policing the Cheetahs scrum all over again ...

Key head-to-head:
There are a few pretty in-form Cheetahs players across the park, but I’m looking forward to the match-up between the fetchers, with the visitors’ Springbok first-choice HEINRICH BRUSSOW up against the Crusaders’ fantastic stand-in for the still absent Richie McCaw, MATT TODD. With the Cheetahs player a settled international, he won’t be at all intimidated by this challenge, but much could depend on whether the Cheetahs can manage enough front-foot momentum for him to be able to wreak havoc in the turnovers department. There’s only so much you can do in the face of heavy, rumbling traffic ...

Recent history:
The Cheetahs produced one of their finest moments in an otherwise chequered (at best?) Super Rugby history by knocking over the ‘Saders 33-20 in Bloemfontein last season, in the midst of a four-game winning run late in the campaign. But they have always found away matches against these opponents deeply traumatic, and were hammered 45-6 the last time they locked horns in Christchurch in 2010.

Rob Houwing’s prediction:
In a foolhardy move, I backed the Rebels over the Cheetahs last weekend, so kind of feel I owe them some confidence this time! But against a wily old Crusaders side, very conscious that they can’t afford a third slip-up in four games? Er, sorry, chaps. ‘Saders by 24

SA GAME 4

BULLS v REDS, Pretoria


When: Saturday, 19:10
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (SA)
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD

Long-range weather forecast:
Partly cloudy, mild, light breeze.

Background:
The Bulls have had a bye week to reflect on their first defeat of the season, the 23-29 home outcome against the Blues in a match they might have won with greater discipline at the breakdown and had Morne Steyn not had a rare attack of the kicking yips. They have the chance to atone for it against the defending champions, ravaged by backline injuries and already under tour pressure after botching a near-runaway lead against the Sharks. With the likes of Messrs Cooper and Ioane out of the mix, this is the best Bulls’ opportunity in some time to cash in on Reds playmaker absenteeism ...

Key head-to-head:
This just has to be the tasty contest at scrumhalf between FRANCOIS HOUGAARD and the Reds’ massively influential Wallaby WILL GENIA. Even in defeat last weekend, I thought Genia looked a constant threat to the Sharks, so form is not an issue in his case. Hougaard may just be hampered by a minor surrender of sharpness after a one-match ban and a bye, but he is the sort of bubbly character not to be too ruffled by that. Even as Fourie du Preez “return” rumours swirl, I’ll bet Bok coach Heyneke Meyer measures the Bulls No 9’s performance against Genia very, very closely.

Recent history:
The Reds won 39-30 in Brisbane last season, and it might have been more had Quade Cooper matched off the kicking tee his artistry in general play, which saw the hosts run in six tries to three. But the last Loftus meeting, in the opening round of their title-winning 2009 season, saw the Bulls triumph 33-20 with a bonus point.

Rob Houwing’s prediction:
With great respect to the defending champions from Queensland, it will be disappointing for the Bulls if they stumble at a second successive home hurdle against overseas opponents. The Reds have a seriously makeshift backline on this occasion, however competitive their pack might be in Pretoria. Bulls by 10 points?

Sport24

Comments
  • Lionel - 2012-03-23 09:55

    Good call on the Stormers game,Sharks is gonna be a tight game as the Waratahs have had a poor start to their season and need to makeup lost ground!!! Cheetahs,come on Rob,give them some credit!!!! Bulls/Reds,Bulls will win by 10 maybe more!!!

  • BlouMasjien - 2012-03-23 10:09

    Stormers to be too strong! Is dit nie wat hulle laas jaar in die "semifinal" gese^ het nie !?

      Lionel - 2012-03-23 10:14

      En waar was julle laas jaar in die semis?????

      Saffa - 2012-03-23 10:21

      @Lionel - They held a night vigil at Loftus.......Lighters in the air, swaying to the beats of "Baby tjoklits" whilst beating their chests and wailing to the stars....

      BlouMasjien - 2012-03-23 10:23

      Waar was die stormers/wp die laaste 10jaar?

      BlouMasjien - 2012-03-23 10:31

      @saffa, en stormer/wp sing "I Believe I Can Fly" en Province die currie cup kom weer

      Lionel - 2012-03-23 10:32

      LMAO@Saffa,baby Tjoklits nogal hahahahaha!!!

      Rene - 2012-03-23 11:16

      Aan al julle Stormer'tjies wat so baie te se het oor verlede jaar se semi's, die Stormers was die grootste teleurstelling vir SA in daardie semi, kry 'n pakslae of 'note'! Rerig julle, as ek julle was sou ek eerder NOOIT daarna verwys het nie! Die Crusaders vlieg hiernatoe, terug NZ en weer terug SA toe, en hulle het julle verkleineer! Sies man! Enige vd SA spanne sou beter gevaar het, het julle geen trots nie! Julle 'brag' oor iets wat pateties was om die minste te se! RERIG????!!!!!!

      Saffa - 2012-03-23 11:34

      Calm down @Rene and remind me when last the Bulls actually played in a semi-final of any sort? 2011 - no. 2010? The Currie Cup semi in Durbs yes? And they are the 'best team' in SA.......RERIG??????

      Rene - 2012-03-23 11:47

      @Saffa, I'm as calm as you can get! It is just soooo astounding to hear you Stormer supporters ALWAYS going on about 'an event' that really turned into an non-event. And seriously it WAS embarrassing! And to answer your question dear, we were in the FINAL and WON in 2010, the difference is when we are in the Semi's the chances are we will be in the FINAL and even bigger chance of winning. Sorry cannot say the same about the Stormers. Even the Lions have more say in rugby lately than the Stormers - for a Stormer supporter that must suck big time. Julle klomp Stormers supporters is baie weird & funny! You have to WIN something to brag about - semi's don't count for nothing!

      Priester - 2012-03-23 11:55

      Saffa LOL hilarious! The Bulls will be back and the papsakke will again fade. Blou Bul Groete!

      Lionel - 2012-03-23 12:01

      Going through a whole Super season without a win,now thats emabarrasing!!!!!!!

      Priester - 2012-03-23 12:02

      @Saffa the Bulls are the best. They are undeniably the most successful team in SA. Enjoy their current lull but take note they will be back BIG TIME! Blou Bul Groete skattie.

      Rene - 2012-03-23 12:12

      @Lionel, at least they did not create expectations! They sucked from the word go till the end! Poor but not embarrassing!! The supporters have forgiven/forgotten about it long ago, the mighty BULLS has made up not once, not twice but 3X TIMES - JIP! They are SA's pride and joy! Lovely my Bulls.

      Charl - 2012-03-23 14:24

      @Rene. The Crusaders are just the best. no sa team wil be able to do it

      Saffa - 2012-03-23 15:40

      @Rene O.K, I guess we were totally useless. Can't disagree, we have been the Jokers of world rugby for a decade now

  • Papa-storm - 2012-03-23 10:21

    beste heading vir n article

  • Pomene - 2012-03-23 10:23

    Don't get cocky Rob - this will be a hard game and definately not a walk in the Park. The Lions are more or less in the same position as the Stormers was last year this time and rebember which RSA team finished in semi's and was the top RSA team...............yes the stormers was !! Be carefull of the Lions !!!!

  • heinrich.beukes1 - 2012-03-23 10:29

    Ek lag my gat af die naweek as die lions wen dan wil ek al hierdie grootbek stormers se kommentaar hoor. "Daai was 'n vorentoe aangee, dit was nie 'n drie nie die voet het die kantlyn geraak ens" blah blah blah

      Pomene - 2012-03-23 12:02

      Kalmte my maat kalmte - die opgewondenheid gaan jou doodmaak !!!

      WP - 2012-03-23 14:01

      @Firehawk07 (what a stupid name) you re going to cry your ass off

      heinrich.beukes1 - 2012-03-23 14:12

      @WP atleast is dit 'n naam en nie 'n afkorting vir weer probeer nie

      WP - 2012-03-23 14:44

      @heinrich, you've watched too much topgun bru

      heinrich.beukes1 - 2012-03-23 15:07

      @WP nooi vir Isakkie uit vir 'n braai dan kan julle tweetjies lekker nonsens praat en dronk raak op julle papsak wyn, dan kan julle sondag uitvind wat gebeur het

      WP - 2012-03-23 15:24

      @Firehawk07 ,The Lions will never win , not even on your playstation.

  • sandile.vanheerden - 2012-03-23 10:46

    Saders by 24!! Really Rob! I want what you're smoking. I also think the Stormers could win by a bit more. My poor Lions could get hurt this weekend, but hoping for a miracle.

  • Stephan - 2012-03-23 15:42

    You cannot write off any team in the Super 15 competition. I'm glad it is the media and not the team that make the Stormers sound like they will be too strong for the Lions. No way AC or any of the players would feel that way. Yes they may be confident, but so would be the Lions. As for the supporters, don't be too quick to say whichever team will win as the writing is not yet on the wall.

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