Will Stormers or Sharks be on song?

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Kolisi_training Gallo Images Stormers flank Siya Kolisi on the ground in training.

There is a new chant starting to swell from the hearts of Stormers fans at Newlands. And it’s all because of a blockbuster feature called Siya Kolisi.

“Here we go Stormers, here we go (clap-clap)” still rings out from the terraces, especially when Andries Bekker is getting ready to poach a lineout deep in the opposition 22 or after a ghostly Gio Aplon step, or after a few minutes of heroic defence.

But now Kolisi has added another few bars to the music at Newlands. Kolisi has been a hit at Newlands ever since he came on for Schalk Burger in the first match of the season against the Hurricanes. In that match, he scored a try from a lineout drive, and from there, it has been all good times for the 21-year-old.

In every match he has driven players back with his huge hits, and it has taken at least two men to bring him down when he has ball-in-hand. And then there was that fantastic inside offload to set up Bryan Habana’s sensational try against the Bulls at Loftus.

The Stormers fans just love it, and during the last few matches at Newlands, a chant of “Koli-i-i-i-si” has broken out whenever he touches the ball. “Yes, I do hear it and it gives me goosebumps! It motivates me to play harder and run harder,” Kolisi told the Cape Times this week ahead of tomorrow’s Super Rugby semi-final against the Sharks.

When told the Newlands crowd are showing their love, he replied: “I love them too!”

The Sharks, of course, will bring their own chant to Newlands on Saturday. “Be-e-e-e-ast” has been a signature tune over the past few years, not just at the Shark Tank but all around the country, and even across the seas. Tendai Mtawarira will no doubt be a strong factor for the Durban side, but it will be up to the likes of Kolisi, Steven “Rooi Gevaar” Kitshoff and Eben Etzebeth to stop him from bursting over the advantage line.

Stormers backline coach Robbie Fleck says he has also heard the Newlands Kolisi roar. “Yes, it’s fantastic! It’s great to see someone being accepted by the Newlands faithful like that, and I hope it continues,” the former Springbok centre told the Cape Times on Thursday.

“He’s been outstanding for us, and I really hope that he gets a reputation or something, a bit like Beast. Siya’s ball-carrying has been outstanding for us, and every time he gets the ball, the crowd just gets behind him, and it just gives the players so much confidence. I hope that it continues.”

Playoffs rugby is invariably tight, with defence, goal-kicking and good discipline the key factors. The Stormers have had the best defence in Super Rugby for the last three seasons, so they will be confident of being able to keep out a rampant Shark attack, led by Springbok wing JP Pietersen.

Fleck, though, feels that the Stormers have some of their own big guns on attack, and that, coupled with the superb defence, could be a lethal combination for the Cape side. “These games are tight – it’s all about parity upfront, and which defence holds out the most. We are tough to beat at home and our defence has served us so well. But it’s a game of few opportunities in a semi-final, and we definitely have that X-factor in the backline who can pounce on opportunities,” he said.

“The Sharks are a side who like to try things, which has worked a lot in their favour, but can also cause problems for them. When you’ve got guys who are able to pounce on any opportunity like a Gio Aplon, Bryan Habana and Jean de Villiers, it’s nice to have that in your armoury. There’s no doubt that the guys are capable of scoring tries, and some brilliant tries – and long-range stuff as well.

“We know that we have that at our disposal, and we are very confident in knowing that we can score tries when needed. We put defences under pressure, and we are going to have to do that against the Sharks defence, which I thought was brilliant against the Reds. We know that we have a very strong defence, but that defence should also allow us a few opportunities on attack.”

Now all we can do is wait to see whether they will be chanting in Cape Town or New Zealand next week ...

TEAMS

Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (capt), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Deon Fourie, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff. Bench: 16 Frans Malherbe, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Don Armand, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (capt), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Bench: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Odwa Ndungane, 22 Riaan Viljoen.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia). Kickoff: 5.05pm.

TV: M-Net/SS1/SS HD. – Cape Times


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