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    Stormers favoured to down Cheetahs

    2016-05-27 13:30

    Cape Town - The Stormers will look to reclaim a spot at the top of their conference when they take on the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday.

    Once regarded as the strongest South African team in 2016, the mighty have fallen dramatically with the Stormers now sitting fourth in the overall SA group. They sit on a mutual points tally with the Bulls at 32, only dropping behind their bovine counterparts due to the Bulls having won more matches. If the Stormers win their clash against the Cheetahs and the Lions beat the Bulls, the Stormers will reclaim the lead in Africa 1 and go second behind the Lions on the overall log.

    It’s a scrap for the middle ground of the conference. The Jaguares are nipping at the Cheetahs’ heels as they are just three points behind the men from Bloemfontein. The Cheetahs are not in a position to try and catch those ahead of them, so their greatest hope for the rest of the competition is to not get caught and a win against the Stormers would give them the inside track.

    Schalk Burger’s injury will be a massive loss to the Stormers. The experience and leadership that Burger possesses in Super Rugby is invaluable to any team, especially one in the dire straits that the Stormers are in at the moment. Besides his talismanic presence, Burger acts as a battering ram for his side, as he has made 108 carries this year alone.

    The last time the teams met: The Stormers scored two tries on the day securing a 20-10 win in Bloemfontein. A poor level of skill was to blame for the relatively low scoreline as both teams intended to play an expansive game. The Stormers scored in the first half through flyer Leolin Zas. Cheetahs captain Francois Venter replied with a five-pointer of his own. The Stormers were able to eventually pip their northern rivals through a try from Sikhumbuzo Notshe.

    Players to watch: Damian de Allende has been pretty shaky since his return from injury and has struggled to hit his straps. Last weekend, however, the former Milnerton student scored a fantastic try, showing his value. Since every game from now on is a Springbok trial, expect a big performance from De Allende. Sikhumbuzo Notshe has been a revelation for the Stormers back-row this season. He has filled the roll of a utility loose-forward but has shined from every position at the back of the scrum, scoring three tries and remaining a menace at the breakdown. Captaincy suits Francois Venter. The former Bull has had a strong season despite playing for a team not doing so well. He has made 16 offloads this season with 23 defenders beaten making him an obvious attacking option for the men from Bloemfontein.

    Team news: With captain fantastic Juan de Jongh out due to injury, Daniel du Plessis will make his Super Rugby debut at outside centre. Burger is still recovering from a foot injury which means Notshe will don the No 8 jersey with JD Schickerling on the bench. Johnny Kotze moves to the replacements bench in place of the injured Huw Jones. The Cheetahs have made minimal changes to the team that beat the Kings last weekend, with Shaun Venter being relegated to the bench and Tian Meyer starting. Neill Jordaan is the only other change as he replaces Henco Venter among the substitutes.

    Form: The men from Cape Town have hit a downward spiral in terms of form. After a promising 40-22 destruction of the Reds in Cape Town, they have since lost to the Waratahs at home, drawn to the Sunwolves, a team they beat 46-19 previously, and then lost 17-13 in Pretoria. The Cheetahs had an incredibly disappointing tour to Australia, losing every one of their games. They are coming off a 34-20 win against the Kings, but even they will know this was not a victory worth celebrating and not a season-saving game.

    Prediction: Stormers by seven.

    Previous results:

    2016: Stormers won 20-10 in Cape Town
    2015: Stormers won 42- 12 in Cape Town
    2015: Cheetahs won 25-17 in Bloemfontein
    2014: Stormers won 33-0 in Cape Town
    2014: Cheetahs won 35-22 in Bloemfontein
    2013: Stormers won 28-3 in Cape Town
    2013: Cheetahs won 26-24 in Bloemfontein
    2012: Stormers won 6-13 in Bloemfontein
    2012: Stormers won 14-16 in Cape Town

    Teams:

    Stormers

    15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Daniel du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe (captain), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.

    Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Johnny Kotze.

    Cheetahs

    15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais

    Substitutes:16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Neill Jordaan, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Nico Lee

    Date: Saturday, May 28
    Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
    Kick-off: 15:00 local
    Referee: Glen Jackson
    Assistant Referees: Ben O'Keeffe, Nick Briant
    TMO: Shaun Veldsman

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    Fixtures

    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 23 February 2018
    • Highlanders v Blues, 08:35
    • Rebels v Reds, AAMI Park 10:45
    Saturday, 24 February 2018
    • Sunwolves v Brumbies, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium 06:15
    • Crusaders v Chiefs, 08:35
    • Waratahs v Stormers, Allianz Stadium 10:45
    • Lions v Jaguares, Emirates Airlines Park 15:05
    • Bulls v Hurricanes, Loftus Versfeld 17:15

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