Preview: Sunwolves v Stormers

Date published: May 13 2016

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The Sunwolves will be on the hunt for Super Rugby revenge when they host the Stormers at the National Stadium in Singapore on Saturday.

The motivation is two-fold. One, Mark Hammett's men were disappointing last week, with the lowly Western Force putting 40 points on them. Two, they were equally poor when they faced the Stormers in Cape Town earlier in the competition.

The Sunwolves are relentless on attack and the Stormers defence can expect more of the same in Singapore.

However, the hosts will have up their game significantly in the set-piece department if they want to earn their second victory.

Statistics reveal that the Sunwolves have fared poorly in scrums and line-outs, as they are ranked 11th and 18th respectively, That, combined with the fact that the Stormers have forced the lowest success rates from their opposition in both set-pieces this season (scrum 71 percent, line-out 77 percent), does not bode well for the Sunwolves.

While the Sunwloves have a never-say-die attitude on attack, they face a staunch defence rated as one of the best in the competition, as the Stormers have conceded the least tries (along with the Sharks) in the competition.

With the home side's willingness to run with the ball and the counter-attacking ability of the Stormers back three, we should be in for an exciting game under the Singapore dome.

The last time the two teams met: The Sunwolves' first trip to Cape Town proved to be a baptism of fire, as the home side ran in six tries against them, four of them in the opening 25 minutes. South African-born full-back Riaan Viljoen notched up two tries in reply, but ultimately they were overpowered by the South African side.

Players to watch: Fly-half Tusi Pisi played an instrumental role in the Sunwolves' win over the Jaguares and was one of the few stars last week against the Force, earning a try for his efforts. The Samoan fly-half is a game changer if he is on song. Winger Akihito Yamada is a constant threat on the wing and has a nose for the try-line, already touching down seven times for the Sunwolves.

For the Stormers, full-back Cheslin Kolbe will be eager to take advantage of the hosts' ropey defence. The diminutive flyer has beaten 23 defenders so far in the competition. With line-outs already an issue for the Sunwolves, one can expect to see the high-flying Pieter-Steph du Toit being a thorn in their side come set-piece time. The lock has five line-out steals to his name so far, a tally that will surely increase on the weekend.

Team news: Sunwolves hooker and captain Shota Horie has been moved to the bench, with Takeshi Kizu getting a start. Horie hands over the captaincy to Harumichi Tatekawa, who will lead his team out for the first time. Sticking with the forwards, Timothy Bond returns from a four-week suspension to take over from Hitoshi Ono in the second-row. The final change is in the back-line where Atsushi Hiwasa comes in for Kaito Shigeno.

Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck – whose charges are fresh off a bye – has made several changes to the side that lost to the Waratahs at Newlands two weeks ago. In the backline, Johnny Kotze replaces the suspended Leolin Zas on the wing and scrum-half Nic Groom moves to the bench to make way for Louis Schreuder. Lock JD Schickerling comes back into the starting line-up, with Rynhardt Elstadt shifting to flank alongside Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr, who moves to the back of the scrum. Hooker Scarra Ntubeni makes his first start since his return from injury, with Bongi Mbonambi set to make an impact in the second-half.

Form: The Sunwolves took a while to get off the mark, with seven consecutive losses leading up to their watershed win in Round Nine. While they have been hammered by the likes of the Cheetahs, Force and Stormers, they have punched above their weight at times, earning narrow losses to the Bulls and Cheetahs at home.

The Stormers enjoyed a bright start to the season, notching up five wins from their first six outings. While recent narrow losses against the Lions and Waratahs have set them back, the men from the Cape are still sitting top of the South African Group.

Prediction: With the visitors being too strong at the set-piece, we expect the Stormers to run away to a 15 point win.

Previous encounter:

2016: Stormers won 46-19 in Cape Town

The teams:

Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Akihito Yamada, 13 Derek Carpenter, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa (c), 11 John Stewart, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Atsushi Hiwasa, 8 Ed Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Fa’atiga Lemalu, 4 Timothy Bond, 3 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 2 Takeshi Kizu, 1 Masataka Mikami
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Ziun Gu, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Yoshiya Hosoda, 20 Taiyo Ando, 21 Yuki Yatomi, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Mifiposeti Paea

Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh (cc), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kobus van Wyk, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Frans Malherbe (cc), 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Huw Jones

Date: Saturday, May 14
Venue: National Stadium, Singapore
Kick-off: 19:45 local (11:45 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser, Shuhei Kubo
TMO: Takashi Hareda

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