Planet Rugby

Preview: Stormers v Western Force

16th May 2014 07:49


Peter Grant Stormers v Lions SR 2014

Centurion: Peter Grant

Basement dwellers the Stormers face another daunting challenge when they host the Western Force in Cape Town on Saturday.

With just three victories from 11 matches, the home side, who are the tournament's bottom-placed team, head into this match as the underdogs against fifth-placed Force, who are brimming with confidence after beating the Cheetahs last weekend.

The Stormers' campaign has been ravaged by injuries with regular skipper Jean de Villiers amongst a long list of players who have been declared unfit to participate in this clash.

Coach Allister Coetzee also seems to be a man at odds with himself. The Stormers have earned a reputation for their defensive style of play, under his guidance, in recent seasons but, after suferring numerous defeats earlier this year, they have played more adventurously in recent weeks.

His decision to drop fly-half Kurt Coleman, who impressed on attack in last weekend's 28-12 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria, in favour of veteran pivot Peter Grant was a surprise, however, and indicates that the men from the Cape could be reverting to their more conservative game-plan again.

Coetzee explained that the Force had a powerful kicking game and Grant could help to counter that threat but also said he felt it "was the right thing to do" to pick the 29-year-old in the starting line-up as it will be his 100th game for the Stormers.

Stand-in skipper Schalk Burger said the Force's kicking game was a major consideration in the side's preparation this week.

"The Force play much like South African sides and they bring a big kicking game to Newlands," he explained.

"We battled with the Bulls' kicking game last week and as a result we battled to exit our half. It's something that we will be prepared for this week."

The Force's 23-16 victory in Bloemfontein last weekend was an historic result as it was their first triumph on South African soil since March 2011.

They've only once returned back to Perth unbeaten in South Africa and that was in 2007, so the Force will have something big to play for. A victory, this weekend, will also be a momentous one for the Force as it will be their eight of the season which will be a new franchise record for wins in a season.

Much has been said about the South African influence on the Force this season and with Sias Ebersohn and former Stormers utility back Marcel Brache in the visitors' starting line-up, and Wilhelm Steenkamp and Brynard Stander amongst the replacements.

Each of those players have added value to the Force's cause but another shrewd move by the Perth-based team was the recruitment of two South Africans to their coaching staff.

Senior assistant coach David Wessels and back-line coach Kevin Foote were promoted to their current positions after serving as defensive consultants with the Force in 2013.

Foote is a former Varsity Cup winning coach in South Africa with the University of Cape Town and Wessels worked as a defence consultant with the same side.

Like Brache, the duo will be highly motivated upon their return to Cape Town. Last weekend's victory over the Cheetahs has boosted the Force's confidence and head coach Michael Foley wants them to build on that effort but expects a tough battle.

"It was great to see the boys pressure the Cheetahs through hard work, and to then capitalise on the chances that came our way," he said.

"The Stormers have been one of the best defensive units in the competition for a number of years. As a consequence, our work on and off the ball will have to be first class on Saturday to get results."

Form: After suffering a 22-16 loss to the Rebels in Melbourne in Round 10 - which brought a five-match winning streak to an end - the Western Force struck back with a narrow victory over the Bulls in Perth. They followed that up with 23-16 triumph over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last weekend. The Stormers battled during the early rounds and have had a mixed bag of results in recent weeks. They beat the Lions in Round 10 but lost to the Cheetahs in their next match before returning to the victory trail against the Highlanders, but then lost to the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend. In nine previous matches between these sides, the Stormers have won seven and the Force two. The average score is 24-17 in favour of the Stormers.

Previous results:

2012: Stormers won 17-3 in Perth
2011: Stormers won 51-16 in Cape Town
2010: Western Force won 16-15 in Perth
2009: Stormers won 25-24 in Cape Town

Prediction: The visitors are on a high, after last weekend's impressive performance in Bloemfontein, and should get the better of their hosts. It won't be easy but the Force will win by three points!

The teams:

Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger (c), 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Brok Harris.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Dylon Frylinck, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Michael van der Spuy.

Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 12 Luke Burton, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Patrick Dellit.

Date: Saturday, May 17
Kick-off: 17:05 local (16:05 BST, 15:05 GMT)
Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Forthcoming Fixtures
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs Gloucester13:00
London Welsh vs Northampton14:30
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs Dragons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
5Leicester Tigers821