Rieko Ioane will start at outside centre against the Stormers at Newlands today (kick-off 3.05pm) after returning from injury. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz
Rieko Ioane will start at outside centre against the Stormers at Newlands today (kick-off 3.05pm) after returning from injury. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz

Stormers will be keeping a close eye on Ioane at Newlands

By Wynona Louw Time of article published Feb 28, 2020

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Rieko Ioane is the flashpoint of the Blues team for the Stormers, but coach John Dobson believes they can put him under pressure if they create space and force him into making a decision. 

Ioane will start at outside centre against the Stormers at Newlands today (kick-off 3.05pm) after returning from injury. 

The All Blacks star picked up the injury in the first half of their Super Rugby-opener against the Chiefs, a match in which he scored two tries and looked in fine form. 

There's no doubt that he'll look to continue that in Cape Town today, and while he's an obvious threat, the Cape side aren't planning on making it easy for him. 

"Obviously it's a challenge, given how good he is. He is big, direct and fast, we know that. He probably has similar qualities to Ruhan Nel. Obviously, it's a massive opportunity for them on attack. It is probably the flashpoint of their team for us," Dobson said. 

"Thirteen is not an easy place to defend. So maybe that could be an opportunity for us, that's what I'd like to think. I know it is a cliche, but it is the most difficult position in rugby to defend.

"The problem is that we have to create the space so that he has got to make a decision, which is something we have not done terribly well over the last few weeks. If we are going to play side-to-side rugby or not create the opportunities for our backs, then we are not going to be able put him under pressure."

Dobson went with a six-two split again, as he's done in all four of their previous games this season, so it's clear that the plan is to continue their forward dominance and dominate the Blues at the set-piece especially. 

The scrum in particular is an area that should go the Stormers' way given how solid it's been in 2020, while the Blues' scrummaging wouldn't have won them any fans this year. They had a particularly tough afternoon in that regard against the Bulls in Pretoria last week. 

While the trend of going with the bench split in favour of the forwards has delivered the results for the Stormers so far, Dobson has previously said he would like to get back to a five-three split. 

During the team announcement press conference on Thursday, Dobson said that one of their goals is to put the Blues under pressure at the scrum. 

"I’m not a big fan of the trend. But this should allow us to maintain any dominance at the set-piece over the course of the game. We can’t allow them any breathing room. We have to keep them under pressure in that area, and keep their dangerous backs on the back foot."

Starting XV: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff (capt) 

Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose (Stormers debut), 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Cobus Wiese, 21 Ernst van Rhyn, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Jean-Luc du Plessis.

@WynonaLouw 


IOL Sport

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