Preview: Reds v Stormers

28th Mar 2014, 05:46

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Reds v Stormers: Should go down to the wire

Reds v Stormers: Should go down to the wire

There will be plenty to play for when the Reds face off against the Stormers at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.

There will be plenty to play for when the Reds face off against the Stormers at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.

Both sides are not in amongst the play-off places on the table with the Reds currently lying in 10th place while the Stormers are in 14th spot, with just their superior points difference separating them from the bottom-placed Cheetahs.

The Reds returned to Brisbane after losing both their matches - to the Sharks and the Lions - on their recent tour to South Africa.

The latter result took place in controversial fashion - after they held a 20-3 lead for most of the encounter - but Graham and his troops have put that episode behind them and are fully focused on this weekend's clash.

The Stormers are winless after their three previous matches on their Australasian tour but despite those losses, and their position on the table, Graham expects a tough assignment from the men from the Cape.

"The Stormers are a very good side," he said.

They have been on the road for four weeks and will want to finish their Australasian tour with a win. They have been a perennial semi-finalist and have set the standard defensively for the competition over a long period.

"They are now putting a lot of time into their attack and are holding the ball for long periods.

"With the likes of (Jean) de Villiers, (Juan) De Jongh, (Gio) Aplon and (Peter) Grant in their backs, they will present a constant challenge. Their backrow has some real dynamism and will provide genuine punch in and around the contact areas."

The Stormers are with their backs to the wall as they will be trying to avert a winless Australasian tour for the first time since 2009.

They are traditionally South Africa's best touring franchise with a winning percentage of 37.1% in Australasian tour matches.

The Sharks are next best on 32.9%, followed by the Bulls (21.7%), Lions (16.1%) and Cheetahs (15.4%). Last weekend, against the Brumbies, they missed a golden opportunity to wrack up their first win of the tour but poor goal-kicking, from fly-half Peter Grant, meant they failed yet again.

Allister Coetzee's side are with their backs to the wall and are desperate to finish their tour with a victory.

That makes them dangerous and although they are yet to win on the road they showed glimpses of their attacking ability when chasing the game against the Brumbies last weekend.

Juan de Jongh showed his class with a well-taken try in that clash, and has been promoted to the starting line-up while another player who impressed off the bench in recent weeks, Nizaam Carr, gets his first start of the season.

Coetzee and his assistant coaches Robbie Fleck and Matthew Proudfoot are in the firing line for the side's woeful run of results but he feels they can end their tour on a high.

"We'd dearly love to finish our tour with a victory in Brisbane.

"We know it won't be easy, but the guys remain positive and determined to make it count this weekend against a Reds team that will also be desperate to get back to winning ways after two losses in South Africa."

And looking at previous matches between these sides, it will not be a surprise if they do manage to secure victory.

The Capetonians have beaten the Reds 10 times in total, of which four away, which is a better record than their nine wins against the Waratahs (three away) and four against the Brumbies (one away).

Prediction: This match will be a close affair and should go down to the wire, but homeground advantage will swing things in the Reds' favour. Reds to win by three points!

The teams:

Reds: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Dom Shipperley, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Ed Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Anthony Fainga'a, 23 Ben Lucas

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Damian de Allende, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Michael Rhodes, 4 Jurie van Vuuren, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Tazz Fuzani, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Jaco Taute.

Date: Saturday 29 March
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Kick-off: 18:40 local, 08:40 GMT
Referee: Chris Pollock (NZ)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh, Robin Hoffman (both Aus)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Aus)