fast little loans
Gio Aplon‘s ability to conjure up a game-breaking play may represent the Stormers’ only hope of ekeing out a win against the Brumbies at Newlands on Saturday night.
Aplon is on the end of a minute backline named by Allister Coetzee yesterday.
The Stormers coach made four changes to the side that ran on against the Chiefs two weeks ago.
Only one of the new faces is a forward, with hooker Tiaan Liebenberg replacing Deon Fourie while Juan de Jongh, Gerhard van den Heever and Dewaldt Duvenage come in for centre Damian de Allende, injured wing Bryan Habana and scrumhalf Nic Groom respectively.
Unless Coetzee has hatched a plan so cunning that you can brush your teeth with it, the selection of Super Rugby’s smallest backline combination is the tactical equivalent of waving a red flag in front of a bull.
Unlike the Bulls, however, the Brumbies do not boast about a motto of “execution about innovation”, and Coetzee himself admitted that the Brumbies would have a few surprises in store for the Stormers.
“Last week, they surprised the Sharks with their scrum,” said Coetzee. “With a team coached by Jake White, there’s always a surprise.”
More surprising than the scrum was the manner in which the Australians set up camp in enemy territory and then dominated the collisions to score four tries in 35 minutes.
The Brumbies mirror the Stormers’ for number of kicks per game (23) and metres gained per kick (32m).
But on Saturday, the unbeaten log-leaders will defend those kicking gains with a backline expected to average 95kg per player, Coetzee will deploy a unit with a median weight of 88kg.
Both sides are expected to sit back and launch kicks downfield, baiting each other into an off-the-cuff counter-attack.
In this scenario, it’s less of a gamble for the visiting backs to have a go because they’re physically better equipped to ensure continuity, and they’re riding a wave of confidence after cutting the Sharks down in last week’s error-free first-half.
Conversely, the likes of Duvenage, De Jongh, Pietersen and Aplon are prone to being turned over if they’re isolated, and the Stormers are still battling to attack without a soaring tally of unforced errors.
In Coetzee’s defence, 93-kilogram pivot Peter Grant was yesterday ruled out for four weeks with a high ankle sprain, but two of the Stormers’ biggest backs – De Allende and fit-again Jaco Taute – will be cooling their heels on the bench while De Jongh takes to the field for his first start of the year.
Duvenage and flyhalf Elton Jantjies are a talented kicking duo who will likely battle Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg for a territorial advantage.
But if they lose the battle of the boot, it will be up to Aplon to produce a moment of individual brilliance in rescuing the Stormers from their first home loss of the season. – Cape Argus