Preview: Stormers v Sharks

Date published: March 6 2015

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Expect fireworks when the Stormers and the Sharks go head-to-head in this South African derby in Cape Town on Saturday.

Recent matches between these sides have shown that there's no love between the men from the Cape and their visitors from Durban and this weekend's encounter should be no different.

The Stormers have made a solid start to their campaign and are second in the standings after winnnig their opening three matches while the Sharks, despite losing two out of three games, are in sixth spot on the table.

A big criticism of the Stormers in recent seasons has been their inability to score tries. They have started this year in a similar vein and are yet to secure bonus-point for scoring four or more tries this year.

Try-scoring bonus-points are also few and far between when these sides clash in Cape Town – the home side have done it three times in 11 matches, and the Sharks only once.

Sharks fly-half Pat Lambie is the tournament's top points scorer so far, with 58 points in three matches. He has been successful with 20 from his 24 kicks at goal.

Stormers head coach Allistair Coetzee expects a difficult task but is confident his side can build on their fine start to the season.

“First and foremost, it’s great to be back home at Newlands, where we will be for the next two weeks before our bye-week and tour," he said.

“For us, it’s all about improving on last week’s performance against the Lions, as we were unhappy with a lot of things that came out of the match.

“We’re expecting a ferocious onslaught from a powerful and experienced Sharks team, who were unlucky to lose away last weekend.

"We’re certainly not reading anything into that defeat to the Bulls, in fact, we know that will only make the Sharks more dangerous.”

The Sharks' director of rugby Gary Gold highlighted how important it is for his troops to return to their winning ways.

“The Stormers are the in-form team in South Africa at present and we are playing them in front of their passionate home crowd," he explained.

"We are under no illusions about how tough the challenge is going to be. This is probably going to be a tougher battle than last week.

"Our squad has had a good training week and are determined to get our campaign back on a winning track.”

Last time out: The Sharks were dominant when these sides met in Cape Town last year and secured a 34-10 victory. That was an important result for the Sharks as it was the final round robin match of the season and secured them third spot on the table. Francois Steyn led the way for the Durban-based outfit with 19 points via five penalties and two conversions and Paul Jordaan, S'bura Sithole and Stefan Ungerer scored their tries. For the Stormers, Nizaam Carr crossed the whitewash and Kurt Coleman kicked a penaty and a conversion.

Players to watch: For the Stormers, the return of Eben Etzebeth is a massive boost. Known for his physicality, Etzebeth will be keen to replicate the form which has made him one of the world's best locks.

The Sharks' dangerman is Frans Steyn who will be keen to continue where he left off when these sides last met. With Patrick Lambie in fine form from the kicking tee, he won't be the first-choice goal-kicker but his big boot will be expected to guide the long-range efforts through the posts.

Team news: Both these sides have been boosted by the return of some experienced Springboks to their respective matchday squads. For the Stormers, Eben Etzebeth will make his first Super Rugby appearance since July 2013 while Schalk Burger has been included amongst the replacements after returning from his club rugby duties in Japan. Siya Kolisi and Manuel Carizza are elevated to the starting line-up, after playing off the bench due to injury, while Scarra Ntubeni returns to the run-on side as a replacement for the injured Bongi Mbonambi which means Neil Rautenbach could make his tournament debut if he comes off the bench.

The Sharks have also been bolstered by the return of experienced Boks JP Pietersen and Francois Steyn. The pair start in midfield after returning from Japan and are joined by fellow international Willem Alberts, who starts on the blindside flank after recovering from injury. Former England prop Matt Stevens makes his first start at tighthead prop while Ryan Kankowski starts at number eight in what will be his 100th Super Rugby appearance.

Form: The Stormers have hit the ground running and are on a high after successive wins over the Bulls, Blues and Lions. Two of those results were picked up on the road and they are currently in second position on the table with 12 points. The Sharks are lying sixth despite registering just one win. They lost their opening match to the Cheetahs but bounced back with a victory over the Lions before losing to the Bulls last weekend.

Prediction: This game will be close but the Stormers have the momentum and will be victorious. Stormers to win by five points!

Previous results:

2014: Sharks won 34-10 in Cape Town
2014: Stormers won 21-19 in Durban
2013: Stormers won 22-15 in Cape Town
2013: Sharks won 12-6 in Durban
2012: Sharks won 26-19 in Cape Town (semi-final)
2012: Sharks won 25-20 in Durban
2012: Stormers won 15-12 in Cape Town

The teams:

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

Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Marco Wentzel, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andre Esterhuizen, 23 Jack Wilson.

Date: Saturday, March 7
Kick-off: (17.10 GMT, 06.10 NZST, 04.10 AEST)
Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
Television match official: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

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