The destroy-their-scrum card
There were a number of let-downs in the Stormers’ 28-20 struggle against the Jaguares in their 2018 opener last week – there was their poor handling and finishing, lineouts, questionable decision-making, and scrums.
Yes, those scrums. It’s not often one can question the Stormers’ set-piece, but against the Argentines, their scrum didn’t exactly do enough to cloud all their other shortcomings with the pure brilliance of their shoving ability.
Until JC Janse van Rensburg came on, that is. In the last 15 minutes, the loosehead prop produced a gigantic scrummaging effort – one that swung the game after the Stormers were under massive pressure in their red zone for quite a while and another that was the final blow for the Jaguares.
And that moment of scrummaging prowess was very effective in pushing all of the other concerning moments to the back of every Faithful’s mindwell, at least temporarily. It became the highlight of the game.
Now if Wilco Louw and Janse van Rensburg can consistently put up a scrummaging show like that today, then I don’t see the Aussies having the slightest chance to respond whenever they pack down.
The solid-defence-everywhere card
Saying that their defence is going to be important is nothing revolutionary. Not at all. But it’s still worth saying. The Stormers defence in their first game suffocated the opposition, especially in the first half, but they were also made to work hard at times – particularly in the opening minutes – when the Jaguares put them under pressure with their sniping strides that could run any defence ragged.
And when it comes to the Waratahs, the Stormers defence isn’t suddenly going slip to a lower spot on their to-do list at the Allianz Stadium, how can it if you have a threat on (extremely quick) legs like Kurtley Beale to watch out for? So, the Stormers should go all out when it comes to defence – make it quick, make those hits hard, and keep it up throughout the game.
The Damian Willemse card
It should be interesting to see how the Tahs deal with the attacking gem that is Damian Willemse. Maybe calling him an “attacking gem” isn’t really fair to the 19-year-old, because that’s not all he can do – he’s a top tackler, he knows how to take the ball to the line and he isn’t scared to get stuck into the grittier parts of the game.
The Australians have of course never played against Willemse, but if they did any kind of homework, they’d know about the guy who will be starting in the No 10 jersey for the South Africans.
Willemse showed glimpses of that freakish attacking repertoire against the South Americans last week, but it would be great if he can sneak through just enough space to do major damage Down Underyou know, to spark that attacking spell, to step the Aussies silly and disorientate them a bit, to use that skill to get maximum reward in the form of a try. And if the likes of Dillyn Leyds and Raymond Rhule can join in and make to make the afternoon an unpleasant one for the Waratahs, why not?
The ruin-Hooper’s-day card
Not today, mate, not today. That should be the sweet words that the Stormers whisper into Michael Hooper’s ear whenever the “breakdown master” attempts to do what he does best – ruin the party for his opposition when it comes to the contest on the ground and trying to talk the ref out of giving one of his mates a visit to the sinbin, he’s become pretty good at that too.
But they shouldn’t literally utter those words, it should be their work at the breakdowns that relays that message to Hooper and co. So, the Stormers are going to have to be on high alert at the breakdowns, react quickly, and basically do whatever they can to prevent Hooper from putting his ball-stealing hands to work.
Teams for Allianz Stadium:
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson. Bench: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Nick Palmer, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Alex Newsome.
Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff. Bench: 16 Dean Muir, 17 JC Janse ven Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 George Whitehead, 23 EW Viljoen.
Referee: Angus Gardner