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Preview: Stormers v Hurricanes

27th February 2014 05:38

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Duane Vermeulen Hurricanes v Stormers Round 11 2013

Under pressure already: The Stormers host the 'Canes

It's still early in the season, but there will be plenty at stake for the Stormers when they host the Hurricanes in Cape Town on Friday.

After last weekend's atrocious performance against the Lions, the home side know that anything less than a convincing victory will not be enough to silence their critics.

Their 34-10 loss to the Lions was the first time in 10 matches that the men from the Cape have suffered a defeat against the Johannesburg-based franchise.

That poor performance has resulted in Stormers boss Allister Coetzee and his players receiving a barrage of criticism from their supporters.

Coetzee and captain Jean de Villiers agreed that the loss to the Lions was unacceptable and the coach revealed that the clash with the Hurricanes was about setting the record straight.

"One doesn't become a bad team overnight and after this wake-up call we need to make sure that we make a good start to the game," he said.

"We were punished [by the Lions] and simply gave points away. We have learnt many lessons, and now the first-game jitters are out of the way. Playing at home makes a massive difference [to the team]."

Despite that defeat, Coetzee hasn't wielded the axe and the return to action of Jaco Taute, who has been on the sidelines since early last season after tearing knee ligaments, is one of only two changes to his starting XV.

Taute at his best is a potent attacking weapon and if he finds the ball in space he could be a handful. Although the entire Stormers squad were below par against the Lions, one man who is saddled with a huge responsibility is fly-half Demetri Catrakilis.

The former Kings stalwart failed to get his back-line firing in Johannesburg and as the team's main playmaker a much better performance is expected of him.

The Hurricanes showed in last weekend's 27-9 defeat to the Sharks that they have the ability to frustrate their opponents as there were certain elements of the game in which they fought back well against the Sharks.

Their potency lies amongst their backs where they have four All Blacks - captain Conrad Smith, Cory Jane, Julian Savea and Beauden Barrett - who are all capable of wreaking havoc once they are on the attack.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett is a shrewd tactician who came to South Africa with the knowledge that playing the Sharks and Stormers in their own backyard presents a unique challenge.

He does have a few tricks up his sleeve for the Stormers and is determined not to leave Cape Town empty-handed.

"Our pre-season was against other New Zealand teams and the forward challenge is different when you play South African teams," said Hammett.

"There are similarities and differences between the Stormers and Sharks, but I can't give too much away. Besides their game against the Lions, we've seen tapes of the Stormers' warm-up games. We have ways of getting them."

Prediction: The Hurricanes showed against the Sharks that they are not an easy team to beat. But despite the Stormers' poor start to the tournament, they usually play much better in front of their home fans and don't be surprised if they bounce back. Stormers to win by seven points!

The teams:

Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Ryno Eksteen.

Hurricanes: 15 Marty Banks, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 John Schwalger, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 James Broadhurst, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 James Marshall.

Date: Friday, February 28
Kick-off: 19:10 (17:10 GMT)
Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Marc van Zyl (South Africa)
Television match official: Deon van Blommenstein (South Africa)

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