Stormers should give Lions the ’Cape Doctor’ treatment at Newlands. This is why...
CAPE TOWN - Given the quality of this Stormers team, their Super Rugby Unlocked-opener against the Lions is one they should take convincingly. Rugby writer Wynona Louw lists four reasons why:
The Springbok flavour
John Dobson’s side is loaded with no fewer than seven Springboks in the starting line-up in Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Siya Kolisi, Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse and Warrick Gelant, with replacement hooker Scarra Ntubeni adding another ‘international’ tag to the mix.
While you can take nothing away from the rest of this Stormers side, the presence of the Boks will certainly add something to the squad, and attitude and confidence can go a long way.
Now, it’s not like a Springbok in any form or position would ever be unwelcomed in a squad, but seeing as four of those Boks – World Cup-winners at that – are in the pack, it’s safe to say that the Lions are in for a tough evening where the forward operations are concerned.
The Stormers dominating the scrum today is a given, not only the because the Lions’ set-piece has been rather creaky in recent history, but also because of the quality of the Cape side’s front row with Malherbe at tighthead, Kitshoff on the other side and Mbonambi packing down in the middle.
More on the pack below…
The loose trio
Ok, so a lot of the Lions’ strengths have to do with the man in the No 10 jersey, Elton Jantjies. The way he can navigate space and execute those attacking kicks is ridiculous, but the Stormers certainly have the ability among their loosies to shut him down and dominate the gain line while they’re at it. Kolisi doesn’t need much of an intro here, Juarno Augustus is gold when he’s injury-free (thanks to that ball-carrying and hard-hitting ways to drive the Lions back) and Ernst van Rhyn has done well when he’s come in at blindside flank.
Oh yes, he’ll also want to make the most of this opportunity in the absence of Bok superstar Pieter-Steph du Toit.
X-factor in abundance
This is probably the only area listed here where the Lions can compete with the Stormers as they themselves have a few exciting guys, but seeing what the likes of Gelant, Sergeal Petersen and Leolin Zas can come up with once their pack has done the work up front is massively exciting.
And don’t forget about Damian Willemse and Herschel Jantjies – two players who will lack absolutely no motivation to show that they are more than their subpar performances (by their standards) of last week.
Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Michal Haznar, 23 Tim Swiel.