Preview: Stormers v Chiefs

Date published: April 7 2017

Two of the three remaining unbeaten sides in the competition will play each other when the Stormers host the Chiefs in Cape Town on Saturday.

The home side sit on top of the South African Conference with 22 points, with their next best competitors the Cheetahs are on nine points, meaning the men from Newlands are very much in control. The Chiefs are second in the New Zealand Conference but have still collected more points than the Stormers with 24.

The Chiefs will be confident going into the clash as they have won each of their last three games against the Stormers, including a 60-21 thumping in the 2016 play-off; the biggest win in the history of the fixture. The Chiefs have also won seven of their last eight games outside of New Zealand, including each of their last three by an average margin of 32 points.

The Stormers have proved to be a strong attacking side this season as they gain an average of 641 metres per game in 2017, the most of any team in the competition and nearly 200 metres more per game than the Chiefs. They have also scored 28 tries, the third most this season.

Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said that the players are looking forward to standing together with the Newlands Faithful for what should be an intense match between two unbeaten sides.

“The players have all put in a lot of hard work and we cannot wait to test ourselves against the Chiefs this weekend,” he said.

“There should be an incredible atmosphere at Newlands on Saturday, so we are very excited about what lies ahead.”

The last time the teams met: The Chiefs cruised to the 2016 Super Rugby Semi-Finals after crushing the Stormers 60-21 at Newlands. The visitors delivered a masterclass of attacking rugby and outscored the Stormers by eight tries to three with four of the five-pointers scored during an impressive first half. The two-time champions dominated most facets of play and the Stormers were blown away by the pace and intensity with which their opponents executed their moves.

Players to watch: After scoring three tries last week Sikhumbuzo Notshe is in some roaring form and expect him to produce an energetic and rambunctious performance against the Chiefs. The loose forward will be plying his trade at number eight on Saturday where his fast feet will be put to use.

The Stormers will have to be wary of the attacking wizardry of winger James Lowe. The flyer has scored once in each of his last three games against the Stormers, as well as providing a brace of try assists in his last fixture against them, making Newlands a happy hunting ground for the predatory athlete.

Team news: There are just two changes to the Stormers’ starting line-up after scrum-half Jano Vermaak was ruled out after leaving the field with concussion in the 53-10 victory against the Cheetahs at Newlands last week. He is replaced by the experienced Dewaldt Duvenage, with Justin Phillips providing cover on the replacements bench. The only change to the forward pack sees a fit-again Wilco Louw take his place at tighthead prop alongside hooker Bongi Mbonambi, who earns his 50th Super Rugby cap.

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has made five changes to the starting line-up. In the forwards, Kane Hames and Atu Moli are promoted from the bench to start alongside veteran hooker Hika Elliot in the front-row. Taranaki flanker Lachlan Boshier returns to the 23 to replace the injured Sam Cane at seven. There are two changes to the back-line with explosive Counties Manukau back Toni Pulu returning from a hamstring strain to start on the right wing and fan favourite Stephen Donald moving from the bench to claim jersey 12.

Form: Both sides are undefeated with the Stormers having won their last five in a row, the last time they went on a longer run was a six-game win streak at the beginning of the 2012 season. The Chiefs have also claimed five wins in a row with a 26-18 victory over the Hurricanes in the rain their most impressive feat.

Prediction: It should be a titanic clash between these two great sides who are playing positive rugby, but the Chiefs have been playing this brand of the game for much longer and will not fear Newlands. Chiefs by 10.

Previous results:

2016: Chiefs won 60-21 in Cape Town
2015: Chiefs won 28-19 in Cape Town
2014: Chiefs won 36-20 in Hamilton
2013: Stormers won 36-34 in Cape Town
2011: Chiefs won 30-23 in Hamilton
2010: Stormers won 49-15 in Hamilton
2009: Chiefs won 28-14 in Cape Town
2008: Stormers won 35-26 in Hamilton
2007: Stormers won 21-16 in Cape Town

The teams:

Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Siya Kolisi (c), 6 Cobus Wiese, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Dan Kriel

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Stephen Donald, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (c), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Atu Moli, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Kane Hames
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Mitchell Brown, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Sam McNicol, 23 Shaun Stevenson

Date: Saturday, April 8
Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 17:15 local (15:15 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)