Preview: Stormers v Cheetahs

Date published: May 29 2015

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Stormers coach Allister Coetzee will face another uncomfortable post-match press conference on Saturday if his team fails to beat the Cheetahs with a bonus point at Newlands.

Bonus points have become a sore point in Cape Town with the Stormers having only picked up an extra point for scoring four tries four times in the past four seasons.

Yes, you read correctly, the side at the top of the South African conference has managed to break the four-try barrier on just four occasions in their last 65 games.

In a competition that was designed to reward teams that regularly get over the whitewash, it's not a record to be proud of and has left them in a tricky position as they trail the 'Tahs by three points in the standings, despite having won the same amount of games.

Only once have Coetzee's men collected an extra attacking point this year but they will fancy their chances of picking up a full house against the worst defence in the tournament. If they can't, they can't pretend to be genuine title contenders.

Coetzee didn't appreciate questions over the lack of a bonus point after last week's win over the Rebels.

"No one remarked that we had ten players of colour in the team that beat the Rebels, or that our Vodacom Cup side is in the final," he said.

"So, when we do these things and then get asked about bonus point tries, I do get frustrated."

The Cheetahs have conceded 47 tries this season already, have scored just three points combined in their last two away games against the Stormers, losing on their last six trips to their conference rivals, so Coetzee will struggle to sidestep questions about his team's attacking ability if they don't fire this weekend.

The Cheetahs also have the worst scrum success this season (only 74 percent) while the Stormers boast arguably the competition's most consistent front row.

The Cheetahs have conceded more metres (512) and clean breaks (11.8) per game than any other team this season, while the Stormers have conceded the third fewest in each category (389 and 6.5)

There can be no excuses this week. The Stormers must win and win big.

The last time these team met: A woeful kicking performance from Kurt Coleman cost the Stormers dearly as the Cheetahs won 25-17 in Bloemfontein earlier this month. The Cheetahs led from start to finish, outscoring their visitors three tries to two, but the Stormers will rue the wayward kicking of their replacement fly-half, who missed four penalties in the second half.

Players to watch: With Schalk Burger rested, Nizaam Carr gets a chance to press for a place in the Springbok World Cup squad. Like Burger, Carr's ability to play in more than one back-row position could be a valuable asset in England but he must show something special to get the nod in a very competitive area in South African rugby.

As a former Stormers stalwart, Cheetahs fly-half Joe Pietersen will be at home at Newlands. His ability to find gaps in the home defence and to turn the Stormers pack around with tactical kicking will be key to his team's chances.

Team news: Fly-half Joe Pietersen and wing Sergeal Petersen are back for the Cheetahs, taking over from Francois Brummer at fly-half and Cornal Hendricks respectively. On the openside flank, Tienie Burger replaces Carel Greeff. On the bench, Sarel Pretorius is back in place of Shaun Venter.

For the Stormers, Carr replaces Burger, winning his 50th Stormers cap in the process. Vincent Koch gets a start at tighthead prop as he rotates with Frans Malherbe whilst Nic Groom starts at scrum-half in a swap with Louis Schreuder.

Form: The Stormers have won five of their last six games with their only loss coming against…the Cheetahs earlier this month. The Cheetahs' only win in their last five games was in the same fixture in Bloemfontein. The Free Staters have lost their last two games by more than 20 points; the last time they lost three in a row by 20 points was in 2010.

Predictions: Despite that upset win a few weeks ago, the Cheetahs' record at Newlands points to a large victory for the hosts. Stormers by fifteen points!

Previous results:
2015: Cheetahs won 25-17 in Bloemfontein
2014: Stormers won 33-0 in Cape Town
2014: Cheetahs won 35-22 in Bloemfontein
2013: Stormers won 28-3 in Cape Town
2013: Cheetahs won 26-24 in Bloemfontein

The teams:

Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Coenie van Wyk, 23 Rayno Benjamin

Date: Saturday, May 30
Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 17:05 local (05:05 GMT, 01:05 AEST, 03:05 NZST)
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Referees: Jason Jaftha, Francois Pretorius
TMO: Deon von Blommestein

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