Cape Town – The Stormers will be looking to pick up the pieces from a shattered season when they host the Highlanders in their Super Rugby clash at Newlands.
A mere two wins after nine matches and lying last on the 15-team log is the Stormers' sorry tale at this stage of the 2014 season.
In stark contrast, the Highlanders arrived in the Mother City in good form which saw them cause the upset of the competition so far with an entertaining 34-18 win over the Sharks in Durban last week.
Despite their woeful position the Stormers may take comfort from the fact that they last lost to the touring New Zealand side seven years ago, and their coach Allister Coetzee has not yet lost heart.
“It's very important for us to bounce back with a win on Saturday,” said Coetzee.
“From a mental point of view we're prepared, and we will be giving it our all once again.
“We will have to be at our best against a side like this.”
Much has been said about the Stormers' desire to move away from ultra-defensive playing patterns, but their efforts have been pummelled by injuries, shaky defences, an unreliable set-piece and a stuttering attack.
Stormers loose forward Nizaam Carr will enjoy a rare starting line-up berth this week, and he's looking to help the team turn its fortunes around.
“We want to attack and we are obviously enjoying it,” said Carr.
“Our intensity is high at the breakdown and going wide, so it is an exciting time for us. I think we were always comfortable on defence and that is where we always turned to.
“At the moment people would say that we are in bits and pieces, but we are working at it and it supports my game and the role that I want to play.”
The Highlanders' winning streak has seen them perform impressively in consecutive victories over the Rebels, Bulls, and Sharks.
“They attack well and they've got two centres who are good runners with ball in hand,” Coetzee said.
“Their number-10 has settled nicely and is making good decisions. Their key men, players like Ben and Aaron Smith, are top All Blacks and are really on top of their game.”
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph feels that the Stormers pose a tricky prospect since the Cape franchise will be desperate to impose their attacking patterns on the match.
“I think they have got a very dangerous attacking mindset now,” said Joseph.
“We are expecting a very tough game against the Stormers and their attack. We have seen against the Cheetahs that they are willing to throw the ball around from everywhere.
“We have also been in that position, so we will have to be very accurate with our defence.” – Sapa