Preview: Cheetahs vs Stormers
By the time the Stormers take to the field against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon, they will know exactly where they stand in terms of the South African Conference.
The Cheetahs won’t need any outside motivation for this encounter at the Free State Stadium though – they can make 2012 their best season yet against a team they seem to enjoy playing against.
In fact, the Cheetahs hold the distinction of being the only team in the last three seasons of Super Rugby to have scored four tries in one match against the Stormers.
That happened last year in Bloemfontein and even though the home team still lost, it’s no mean feat against the best defensive side in the competition.
Naka Drotské, coach of the Cheetahs, made a few changes to his side, mostly because he wanted to give some players opportunities while others have not played too well against the Vodacom Bulls last weekend.
Drotské said they know the Stormers will travel to Bloemfontein with the top spot on the South African Conference in mind, but they would also like to finish their season off on a high note in their final home game of 2012.
“Playing in Bloemfontein is always a bit easier for us,” said Drotské.
“We will always have respect for their defence, but last year we were the only team in the competition to get four tries against them, so we will again try and penetrate their line and score some tries.
“They are a very good side, but we can beat any team in Bloemfontein if we play well. We disappointed ourselves against the Bulls and would like to compensate for that defeat.”
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee is weary of the Cheetahs’ ability to disturb his team's structure.
“They are a very good side and the opposition must be accurate otherwise they'll disturb your cohesion. We have to make sure that we give them nothing, and if we can do that, they won't be in the game,” Coetzee said.
Key Battle: Heinrich Brüssow vs. Siya Kolisi. Two men sharing the same objective, to play themselves into the Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship. The fetcher Brussow against the strong runner Kolisi. Fasten your seatbelt.
Last Meeting: Stormers 16-14 Cheetahs (Cape Town).
Prediction: With the Stormers back to near full strength, they will return to the Cape with four log points against an improved Cheetahs side to the one that received a hammering last weekend. Stormers by 12 points.
Saturday 7 July: Cheetahs vs. Stormers, Bloemfontein (15:00)
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Philip Snyman, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Barry Geel, 11 Cameron Jacobs, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Justin Downey, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Andries Ferreira/George Earle, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 WP Nel, 18 George Earle/Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Nico Scheepers.
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 Quinn Roux, 19 Don Armand, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.