Stormers

Can the Stormers keep it up ?

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The Sharks have been the flag-bearer of the South African Super 14 sides to date, maintaining their second position on the log despite a number of rather unconvincing performances – but over the past few weeks the Stormers have made people sit up and take notice as they struck form overseas after some average performances at home.


And so it will be again this weekend when they have to weather the Hurricane onslaught in a match that should produce rugby of rare quality at Newlands.


The Hurricanes, currently third on the log, last weekend successfully negotiated their first match in South Africa when they trounced the Bulls at Loftus.


But while they played well and scored six tries, the question remains whether they were excellent, good or average – for the Bulls were woeful.


The Stormers are, after their hesitant start, starting to play the sort of running rugby that one always associated with the Western province sides.


The difference is they now also have tight forwards who have taken the step up.


It will be up to them to provide the platform for their outstanding loose forward trio of Francois Louw, Luke Watson and Schalk Burger.


From the spectators’ point of view, there is the mouth-watering prospect of the Stormers’ wing, Tonderai Chavanga, in full cry to look forward to.


Thrust into Test rugby before he was ready, the former Zimbabwe and Springbok Sevens player is now ready for real Test rugby, and one hopes he is given the opportunity on the attack to emphasise his potential on Saturday.


* The Sharks play the Brumbies in Canberra – and they have a ten-year drought to break, having last beaten the Brumbies at home in 1998.


In fact, with three of the last four matches between the two sides won by the Brumbies, Johann Muller’s men will have to up their urgency and effectiveness on attack against an erratic side that downed the Blues last weekend and will be confident of repeating the feat.


Perhaps the spark that has largely been lacking from a side playing as individuals rather than a unit will be provided by livewire scrumhalf Rory Kockott, who starts ahead of Ruan Pienaar in this match.


* What to expect of the struggling Bulls is not certain. Lethargic, disinterested, woeful, are just a few words to describe the defending champions.


They play the Highlanders at Loftus. The visitors have won only one match thus far and in a normal season would probably have been cannon fodder for the Bulls. But this, in Bulls country, is no ordinary season.


Can they take a step -even a small one – up? Will there be a little more urgency, more skills, better communication and positive body language?


Time will tell, but it is a fact their supporters are dwindling. Only a convincing win achieved with emphatic play will change that around.


* The Lions, likewise, are difficult to predict. They’ve done some very good things, but the old excuse of their being a young side is no longer a valid one. If the youngsters can’t do it, get older players in.


Their record, filled with near-misses and close calls, still has them propping up the log – and nothing can explain that away.


They play the Waratahs in Sydney, and the Australian side is now eyeing a semifinal spot. They will be difficult to beat after some heartening performances of late, and only 80 minutes of effort by the Lions and finishing off their opportunities with points, will get them what seems like an unlikely win.


This weekend’s fixtures (home teams first, SA times):


Friday:


Chiefs v Crusaders, 9.35am;
Reds v Force, 11.40am


Saturday:


Waratahs v Lions, 9.30am;
Brumbies v Sharks, 11.40am;
Bulls v Highlanders, 3pm;
Stormers v Hurricanes, 5.05pm


Sapa – Super14.com  

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