Stormers to conquer Crusaders

2012-04-10 09:04

Cape Town – The Crusaders’ likely anxiety to stay in the Super Rugby playoffs hunt shapes up as their main ally in the task this weekend of trying to knock the pace-setting Stormers off their lofty perch.

Normally the seven-time winners of the competition would have a lot more strings to boast to their bow for a home meeting with these particular South African tourists, whose unbeaten run may even see some staunch New Zealand pundits do the near-unthinkable and install them as favourites for a Christchurch encounter (Saturday, 09:35 SA time).

The Stormers come off a stirring, highly-professional victory over the Highlanders in their opening fixture abroad, amazingly beating off the effects of an arduous trip to Dunedin – hot on the heels of downing bitter local rivals the Bulls -- to snuff out the Otago side 21-6.

If anything, Jean de Villiers’s side will be the slightly more rested outfit going into the next challenge, considering that they ought to have more effectively shaken off any lingering jetlag whilst the Crusaders have had to do the long haul from South Africa much more recently themselves.

Admiration for the Stormers’ six-out-of-six record in 2012 came from long-serving New Zealand Herald scribe Wynne Gray on Monday, as he noted: “They demonstrate a collective will and defensive trust which is a non-negotiable mantra for top coaches and a foundation for all quality sides.

“Some team will unlock the Stormers’ defensive chokehold. It could be their next opponents, the Crusaders, but they have to gather their battered bodies for the trip home while the Stormers revive their weary limbs in Queenstown.

“The Crusaders still have a fair way to go to deliver on their broad potential.”

Certainly the team under greater pressure on Saturday will be the home one, now with only a 50% record after six games themselves, nine points off the log-leading Stormers and just outside the “playoffs zone” in seventh spot overall.

They have also slipped to as low as fourth in the New Zealand conference, although they boast a game in hand over the Highlanders and Hurricanes just above them.

But the ‘Saders may also have a pinch of extra motivation after being angered by allegations – unsubstantiated in TV evidence terms, it seems – of eye-gouging in the loss in Pretoria, and decide to take out their wrath on another set of South African opponents.

With no really standout team in the Australian conference thus far – Jake White’s Brumbies lead it despite having already lost three games – the Stormers could just begin to contemplate a novel tour clean sweep if they can get past the Crusaders, who beat them both in ordinary season and the semi-final at Newlands last season.

Their remaining dates abroad are across the ditch against the Reds and Force.

 Still, while few credible reasons can be found to criticise a team that currently just keeps on winning, the Stormers’ grip on proceedings is not a wholly “iron” one because of their inability to bag a bonus-point victory yet.

What that means is that the second-placed Chiefs are only two points adrift as they embark on their safari to South Africa, which begins against the in-form Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Nor do the Stormers have it completely their own way in the SA conference, as the Bulls, fresh from knocking over the Crusaders more convincingly than the 32-30 scoreline suggests at Loftus, trail them by only four points despite two losses – their four bonus points is a healthy tally, keeping them in good touch with their southern rivals.

If the Stormers were to lose in Christchurch, the Bulls would later enter their Coca-Cola Park derby against the struggling Lions – Josh Strauss and company minus a victory in five matches – knowing that a convincing win could see them suddenly grab the conference lead.

Meanwhile the erratic Sharks must regroup from their reverse to the Hurricanes to try to end their Antipodean mission on a winning note against the Blues, so unexpectedly languishing in the nether regions of the overall table with the Lions.

If the men from Durban fail to win in Auckland on Friday – Keegan Daniel’s troops are presently a tricky team to “call” with any confidence – there is the danger of their slumping to fourth in the South African table as they are only a point ahead of the Cheetahs.

This weekend’s fixtures (home teams first):

Friday: Blues v Sharks (09:35 SA time), Force v Waratahs (13:40). Saturday: Crusaders v Stormers (09:35), Brumbies v Rebels (11:40), Cheetahs v Chiefs (17:05), Lions v Bulls (19:10). Byes: Highlanders, Hurricanes, Reds.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • Jonathan Rose - 2012-04-10 09:15

    Even though the highlanders were top of the nz teams..i think the saders game will be the toughest for the stormers..if the y past this test,i will install them as favourites..unless injuries hamper them later...go stormers

      Dhirshan - 2012-04-10 10:06

      up the sharks!

  • Lionel - 2012-04-10 09:16

    Morning All!! Mission not Impossible.............Go Stormers you beautys!!!

      Nic - 2012-04-10 09:30

      Despite our warm friendship Lionel, I must say your team really impressed. Remember what I told you my prediction is before the season started? I'm finding it hard to see it any other way at this stage, hard in every sense... Congrats!

      Lionel - 2012-04-10 09:41

      Morning Nic,have a good long weekend????Sorry,I dont remember your prediction,only thing I remember is that you said the Stormers were going to win the cup heheheheehe!!!! Bulls impressed just as much,Francois Hougaard,what a gem!!!!!

      Nic - 2012-04-10 09:50

      Yes, that's what I said I'm afraid. Rumours are that Hougie will be going back to the Cape sooner rather than later... I hope they're just that, rumours. I will be reading a lot into your game against the Crusaders this weekend, one of only 2 teams who can beat the Stormers at Newlands, Bulls being the other ;^)

      Lionel - 2012-04-10 09:53

      Nic,I will welcome him back any day,wing or scrummie,he will start for us!!! Like I said to Jason below,if we can put the Saders under pressure like you guys did,then mistakes will creep into the Saders game,hope I am right!!!!

      Saffa - 2012-04-10 11:13

      Morning folk - I hope you all had a fantastic Easter weekend, and returned home safely. A brilliant rugby weekend all round....(except for the Maties - but hey, Tuks were deserved winners so no complaints). @Lionel and NicNacNac: The Hougaard rumour has been around a while, but in the last 2 weeks has gathered some serious steam - and there has to be some truth somewhere. Just putting it out there: Seeing Fourie du Preez sitting next to Meisie at the Varsity cup final last night, got me thinking: Meyer wants du Preez back to play for the Boks (I don't to be honest), Meyer usually gets what he wants and I am certain du Preez has been chatting to him while he is home from Japan.......could du preez NOT be thinking of moving back to the Bulls in order to 'serve' Meyer at the Boks? If that is the case.....Hougie will show them a HUGE F.U. (as would MANY world class players)

      Tokolos - 2012-04-10 12:56

      Dear Miss Saffa Cat A very good day to you too. There is something that Tokolos was meaning to tell you. Tokolos hope that you won't faint so you better sit down please. Tokolos wanted to marry you! You always say such warm and beautiful things. Tokolos was thinking of dumping his girlfriend and move to the house next to you and ask you to marry him. But Tokolos read on another blog that you need to spend more time in the kitchen. Therefore Tokolos cannot marry someone who sits on blogs all day and don't cook in the kitchen. Will you please spend less time here and more in the kitchen? I promise you I will then marry you ok. Oh!... and you have to convert to a BULL supporter, otherwise Tokolos sees no future for the two of you. Love & hugs, BLOU TOKOLOS

      patrickjasoncawood - 2012-04-11 17:28

      WP cant afford to keep players let alone buy them

  • hannes.handogg - 2012-04-10 09:23

    Going to be a great game! Not sure what to pick on Superbru just yet, but I'm HOPING for the Stormers to take this one. Only time will tell. Go Stormers!!!

  • Gerald - 2012-04-10 09:26

    Crusaders at home - will be very difficult to beat. Not a Stormers supporter, but nevertheless, hope they win.

  • Jason - 2012-04-10 09:45

    Morning all, Stormers will win against the Saders! The Kiwis are under pressure to pull out a victory, and a team under pressure makes mistakes, and making mistakes against an in form and pressureless Stormers team is dangerous!

      Lionel - 2012-04-10 09:49

      Hey Jason,exactly, Carter(sure, it was his first start)was under pressure and mistakes crept in,his kicking was not up to standard.We have to put them under huge pressure from the start and not let off!!! Boys to make us proud and win by 4 points!!

      Paul - 2012-04-10 12:17

      the key to this next game is to keep Reid unsettled . if he gets the forwards organised it will be a long day at the office for us wp people. carter is same as morne , don't give penalty in post range otherwise they will punish you. but i pretty sure eBen is up to the task with his two tower brothers at arms. think our backs starting to feel familiar with a set game plan and only now the individual flair is starting to sneak in .

      Tokolos - 2012-04-10 13:06

      Jason one eye Tokolos want to tell you something. I hope that you Storming guys can beat the Flousaders in their backyard. That will be a good day for Tokolos. It will make Him happy to see them loose at their own stadium. Be careful though. The Flousaders are a very dangerous team and because the have their backs against the wall and their people expect a lot from them, they will be no pushover. They are not 7 times champions for nothing. The Storming guys are playing good up and under (rugby) and have a good change of taking the game but they need to keep their cool. It will not be easy. Yours Sincerely, BLOU KAMPIOEN BULLE SE TOKOLOS

  • Abri - 2012-04-10 09:55

    Not a Stormers fan - but cannot see how the 'Saders can win this one. Stormers just awesome at this stage. Can't see anyone but themselves beating them this season.

      Lionel - 2012-04-10 10:08

      Isnt that what you said before the Newlands game Raven:):)

      Lionel - 2012-04-10 10:24

      Net soos julle teen die Saders,as Carter reg geskop het,was dit goodbye en Pro Legoete????,could have been a different story but all in all a good win for the Bulls!!!

      Stormkaap - 2012-04-10 10:28

      Never write off the Saders.. coming from a Stormers supporter.

      Saffa - 2012-04-10 11:15

      @Bluey - Stop blaming Morne Steyn for your 2 losses this season....Rugby (like shopping) is a team sport :) (I suggest you make sure you have 2 kickers on the field? Just putting it out there....) Most teams have 2 reliable place kickers....why not you chaps?

      Saffa - 2012-04-10 11:39

      Ok Bluey, whatever you say Bluey. I hope you had a good Easter with loads of chocolate.....and pink marshmallow eggs....

      Lionel - 2012-04-10 12:02

      Raven,I did mention DC but I also mentioned Pro Legoete!!!!

      Lionel - 2012-04-10 12:31

      Raven,you very wrong my friend,I support all SA sides playing against overseas teams except in the playoffs if it effects my Stormers!!!! As for blind refs against the Bulls,was meisiekinds try against us not from a forward pass????

      Lionel - 2012-04-10 12:51

      You are correct in saying that you are breathing down our necks but remember you still gotta tour and we all know that the Bulls are not the best at touring,sterkte!!!!BTW,the pass was forward:):):)

      Tokolos - 2012-04-10 13:08

      Lionel As die hasie nie gestop het om te skyt langs die pad nie het die skilpad nie die race gewen nie. Verstaan jy? Use it, don't use it! BLOU KAMPIOEN BULLE SE TOKLOS!

  • Jacques - 2012-04-10 10:16

    Playoff choke is a horrible thing... Just saying!

  • Tokolos - 2012-04-10 10:17

    Stormers is heeltemaal teen Tokolos se geloof.... MAAR!!! Go Stormers.... Gee daai "engeltjies van rugby" die pak van hulle lewe. Vriendelike Blou Bul Kampioen groete, TOKOLOS

  • Christie - 2012-04-10 10:34

    Wonder what Todd and Co will come up with? It will be a bigger test for the Capetonians compared to last Saturday. Stormers have great momentum, winning games on defense and capitalizing on the opponents wrong doing. Forwards extremely effective as a unit, personally not so impressed by the backs. Backing them though.

      Saffa - 2012-04-10 11:30

      Bitter is a terrible colour for you Bluey...try pink?

      Saffa - 2012-04-10 11:48

      How many games have the Stormers lost thus far? Thought so Bluey.

      Saffa - 2012-04-10 12:44

      LOL @Bluey - so keen to use anything at all to minimise the Stormers success thus far. Why not just say: well done thus far Stormers?

  • Stephan - 2012-04-10 11:20

    Will be nice for the Stormers to win this 1 even if only to irritate those cru supporters in capetown. Even better its best to drive the crusaders into the ground now that they are down, don't want them anywhere near a semi spot at the end.

      Rohann - 2012-04-10 13:39

      They are Stormers supporters now that we are winning. Maybe in the future the Hurricanes will dominate then they all will be canes supporters.Depends on who is the favourites.

  • stoute.babuseng - 2012-04-10 11:42

    lol all i can say is good luck to the Wee Pees :)

      Jahendel - 2012-04-10 12:10

      @ Stoute Wee Peed on u

  • Gerald - 2012-04-10 12:22

    All the Stormers players better wear goggles to protect their eyes. LOL

  • Matt - 2012-04-10 12:28

    Crusaders to win, you will see, easy win too

      Saffa - 2012-04-10 12:45

      Maybe @Matt maybe.....then again maybe not?

      Tokolos - 2012-04-10 13:15

      Matt This is Tokolos. Please send me the link where you read this or is it just the wool the NZ media pull over your eyes as usual. Check out this link then we will see what you have to say. www.stormers/gaanjulle/name/ Regards, TOKOLOS

      Marko - 2012-04-10 13:19

      Well I hope so too Matt! He he that will shut their traps for a while!

  • Eugene - 2012-04-10 13:16

    Stormers 19 - 10 Crusaders

  • Arno - 2012-04-10 13:21

    I dont understand why people are going on about the stormers like they are at the moment...?Yes they are unbeaten and yes they have the best defence sofar.......But not to crash the party or anything but go back and see that the sharks and bulls have acomplished 6/6 wins!!!! I would be a proud Stormer if i were a supporter of the cape franchise ,but suddenly i feel that some people may expect to much from the stormers???They are brilliant at the moment but just remember this ......They are facing a pissed of Crusaders team and its been so so so so many years since a South-African team won on Saders turf , so be carefull to see a walk in the park!!!Hope Stormers can win!!!!From a Proud Bulls supporter!!!!

      francis.titus - 2012-04-11 07:56

      Arno seems to be very politely negative and bias.

      Robsschele - 2012-04-11 14:06

      A lot can happen this year. Didn't the Cheetahs won their first game ever in NZ this year. And didn't the Bulls had a 12/12 in 2001.

  • tamzinjm - 2012-04-10 13:44

    People talk about Crusaders being under pressure to pull out a win on their homeground, some are quick to write us off, some (although not NZ supporters) put their hot-headedness aside and wish us luck ... But what people are so quick to forget is that AB's had their back against the wall in the RWC Final, pressure was on to deliver ... and we delivered! Granted , there are no more than 8 AB's in the Crusaders side ... if AB's can do it with 15 players ... Saders can do it with 8 AB's in their line-up! But then again...I am not stupid enough to write of the Stormers, its gonna be one HELL of a game!!

      Smell - 2012-04-11 04:36

      Well, that is a very reasonable and polite enough comment fro a good New Zealander. Why the heck are my fellow Saffas giving you so many thumbs down? Really don't know. May the best team win. I hope it is the Stormers, simply because they are my blood brothers.

  • Saffa - 2012-04-11 01:46


      patrickjasoncawood - 2012-04-11 17:37

      dont be a tosser SAFFA ;-) SA supporters hearts should be on the Boks and the Stormers beating the Saders away can only hold them in good sted

  • mvw74 - 2012-04-11 09:00

    Go Stormers make us proud once again this weekend!! Just sort out our damn hooker he's lineout throws are PATHETIC!!! We have 2 of the tallest guys in the the super rugby, how the hell can't he find them feeding the ball straight????

  • patrickjasoncawood - 2012-04-11 17:42

    All I can say is that the season only end in August, any team can have a good run and go top Early days guys The Stormers are top of the log right now but have had it pretty easy so far. Playing the Bulls/Sharks away will be their biggest tests. I know the players know this but a few supporters think it's done and dusted Like in the Premiership the league is won in May

  • Willie - 2012-04-11 19:36

    Stormers, for the honour of South African rugby, do it again Best wishes from a Cheetah supporter

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