Preview: Stormers v Bulls

Date published: April 24 2015

There will be plenty at stake when the Stormers host the Bulls, in a clash between South Africa's traditional rivals, in Cape Town on Saturday.

The home side's scrum has been dominant throughout their campaign and the launch pad for most of their attacking play. The men from the Cape's scrum has the fourth highest success rate in the competition with 91 percent.

They will look to attack the Bulls in that area of the game as it helped pave the way to victory when they secured a win over the three-time champions in their season opener earlier this season.

The Stormers caught the Bulls by surprise when they beat them in Round One as Frans Ludeke's troops were considered by many pundits before the tournament's start as the side that would lead the South African challenge for the title.

A worrying statistic for the men from Pretoria is that they have made the least clean breaks (44) and offloads (47) in the tournament.

The Stormers head into this clash with plenty of confidence after they came from their Australasian tour with victories against the Waratahs and Western Force and their head coach Allistair Coetzee is excited about the prospect of taking on Bulls again.

"It doesn't get much bigger than a North-South Derby in Cape Town," he said.

"We had a fantastic tour and the guys spent some quality time together, but there is nothing better than being back at home in front of our passionate fans at  Newlands. We're certainly looking forward to the challenge!"

Bulls boss Frans Ludeke echoed Coetzee's sentiments.

“It does not come bigger than facing the Stormers in Cape Town," he said.

"As our luck would have it, they have won their last two matches on tour in Australia and are playing at home for the first time in five weeks, so will be up for it.

"If we want to be a champion side, we will need to respond to this in a champion’s way."

The last time these teams met: The Stormers were victorious against the odds when these sides met in Round One in Pretoria. The men from the Cape claimed a deserved 29-17 victory in the Bulls' backyard with Dillyn Leyds and Duane Vermeulen leading the way with a try apiece for the visitors. For the Bulls, Deon Stegmann scored a try and Handre Pollard kicked four penalties.

Players to watch: The Stormers have a new wing duo in Johnny Kotze and Pat Howard who take over from Kobus van Wyk and Leyds. The latter duo have impressed and Kotze and Howard – who is making his Super Rugby debut – will have to be at their best against the Bulls' Springbok duo of Bjorn Basson and Francois Hougaard respectively.

For the Bulls, Springbok scrum-half Piet van Zyl returns to the run-on side after spending most of the season on the bench. He comes in for the injured Rudy Paige and will look to cement his place in the starting XV with a solid performance.

Team news: Springbok number eight Duane Vermeulen returns to lead the Stormers as one of four changes to Coetzee's run-on side. Vermeulen replaces Nizaam Carr while Kotze andHoward come in for the injured wing duo of Van Wyk (knee) and Leyds (shoulder), respectively. The final change is at scrum-half where Nic Groom takes over from Louis Schreuder.

Form: The Stormers have turned their fortunes around with back-to-back victories over the Waratahs and Western Force on the Australian leg of their overseas tour. Before that they lost to the Hurricanes and Highlanders in New Zealand and the Chiefs in their previous home match.

The Bulls beat the Sharks in Durban last weekend and prior to that they thrashed the Reds in Pretoria. Their last defeat was in Round Eight against the Lions in Johannesburg. That result ended a four-match winning streak in which they beat the Sharks in Pretoria, Cheetahs, Western Force and Crusaders.

Prediction: This will be the closest encounter of the weekend but home ground advantage will be crucial in securing victory for the hosts. Stormers to win by three points!

Previous results:

2015: Stormers won 29-17 in Pretoria
2014: Stormers won 16-0 in Cape Town
2014: Bulls won 28-12 in Pretoria
2013: Stormers won 30-13 in Cape Town
2013: Bulls won 25-17 in Pretoria.
2012: Stormers won 19-14 in Pretoria
2012: Stormers won 20-17 in Cape Town
2011: Bulls won 19-16 in Cape Town
2011: Stormers won 23-13 in Pretoria

The teams:

Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.

Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Lappies Labuschagne, 21 Akona Ndungane, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jurgen Visser.

Date: Saturday, April 25
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 19:10 local (17:10 GMT, 03:10 AEST, 05:10 NZST)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman, Pro Legoete
TMO: Johan Greeff