Stormers to spark more Oz pain?

    2015-04-15 23:00

    Cape Town – South African teams have a golden opportunity to cash in on a further fortnight in Super Rugby minus the need to play any New Zealand opponents.

    It was probably no coincidence that teams from the local conference earned a fairly rare clean sweep over foreign foes last weekend: the losers were all Australian.

    Promisingly, perhaps, both of the next two rounds in the competition see SA sides again skirting rivals from the land of the current world champions, who boast as many as four teams (Hurricanes, Chiefs, Highlanders and Crusaders) realistically vying for the finals series cut.

    It is not until the weekend beginning on May 1 that such challenges resume, when the Sharks play their first overseas tour match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

    Until then, there is every reason to believe local sides harbouring playoffs aspirations should stiffen their quests.

    After all, the stats so far confirm that South African franchises again this year fancy playing Aussie foes far more: the scoreboard thus far stands at 7-1 in favour of SA teams over Australians, the lone blemish being the Brumbies’ 20-3 victory over the Cheetahs in Canberra recently.

    By stark contrast, New Zealand sides boast a 9-5 advantage over SA rivals in bilateral games involving those particular countries.

    But the further good news, by extension, is that South African teams have a further 12 games remaining against Aussies --- their conference is collectively the weakest as things stand -- and only six against New Zealanders.

    This weekend, the prospect of further bragging rights over Australia looks quite rosy, as the resurgent Stormers, so heartened by their bonus-point triumph over the champion Waratahs in Sydney, tackle a Force team in Perth which is reeling from seven losses in succession and out of the playoffs picture unless a turnaround miracle occurs for them in the second half of ordinary season.

    Meanwhile the Cheetahs entertain the Reds, bottom of the Aussie conference and thumped a week earlier by the Bulls at Loftus: a home win in Bloemfontein might even get Francois Uys and company believing they can rekindle top-six dreams of their own.

    A weekend ahead, South African activity in Super Rugby will be restricted to two derbies: Stormers v Bulls and Lions v Cheetahs, with the Sharks getting a welcome bye after a long and often troubled spell without a break.

    What’s that they say about making hay – or at least trying to – while the sun shines?

    *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing
    Read More On:  stormers super 15 cape town rugby

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