Planet Rugby

Preview: Rebels v Stormers

16th May 2013 10:07

Share:

Scott Higginbotham Rebels v Brumbies 2013 Melbourne

Key man: Scott Higginbotham

The Rebels and Stormers are set for an all-or-nothing set-to in Melbourne on Friday, with the South African side desperate for a win.

As improbable as it seems, the 10th versus 12th match between the Rebels and the Stormers is a battle between an irresistible force and an immovable object.

The Rebels have been racking up points, and are a team on the verge of success. In their last four games they have lost by less than a converted try.

The Stormers have similar experience of narrow margins, winning two games and losing two games by less than a seven-point margin.

The difference in the fortune between these teams isn't much.

The Stormers didn't cross the try-line against the Waratahs last week in Sydney. They relied on the goal-kicking of Joe Pietersen to keep them in touch for most of the game but it wasn't enough to do anything but salvage a bonus point. In fact, in their last four games the Stormers have scored four tries.

Contrast that to the Rebels, who while losing to the Blues, accrued 14 tries in their last four games. Their attacking options have increased and they've taken more of their opportunities.

Here's where the intrigue begins - if we flip the statistic to tries conceded though, and they tell a different story. In their last four outings the Stormers have conceded only four tries, the Rebels twelve.

So while it seems like a match of two middling teams at face value, the reality is that these two teams could provide a game filled with high-stakes action. The Rebels will be hectic, almost desperate while the Stormers clinical and patient.

The Rebels have made four changes to the side that lost to the Blues last week. First choice scrum-half Nick Phipps starts from the bench, having a rare rest which gives Nick Stirzaker his first starting role as scrum-half.

Lachlan Mitchell moves to the left wing to cover Cooper Vuna, who will miss the match with a calf strain. In turn, Rory Sidey fills Mitchell's regular position at 12.

Mitchell's defensive starch shores up the Rebels left side but the move fractures his extremely effective partnership with Mitchell Inman who will again play at outside centre.

Former Brumbies winger Kimami Sitauti will make his first appearance for the Rebels, coming off the reserves bench. Bryce Hegarty, who came on as a third string fly-half last week against the Blues, will start in that position. Ged Robinson returns at hooker, relegating Shota Horie to the bench.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has made seven changes to his squad for Friday. Deon Fourie again slots in on the side of the scrum, giving Scarra Ntubeni his first taste of Super Rugby this season in the number two jersey. Fourie's line-out throwing hasn't been up to scratch and Coetzee will be hoping for a better performance from the new hooker.

Nizaam Carr also gets his first start of the year, packing down at number eight. Flanker Siya Kolisi will serve on the openside this week with Rynhardt Elstadt missing out completely due to injury.

Coetzee has taken a broom to his halves, sweeping the channel clean to restore Elton Jantjies and Louis Schreuder to fly-half and scrum-half respectively. Jantjies comes in as a direct swap for Gary van Aswegan while Dewaldt Duvenage has been omitted from the matchday 22.

The key to this game is Jantjies. If the playmaker can find his rhythm and dictate the play, the Stormers could win in at a canter. If the Rebels can nullify him by cramping him for time and space, they're an outside chance.

The Rebels will hope their loose forwards will again lay a platform but may struggle with the inexperienced halves combination of Stirzaker and Hegarty, who will play their first game as a combination, and both in their run-on debuts.

Prediction: The Stormers are depleted on the road, as testified by their changes. The Rebels have toiled for a month and are probably hurting both physically and emotionally. It will be a struggle for both teams, but the class of the Stormers may shade the Rebels' work ethic. Stormers by 3!

The teams:

Rebels 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom English, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Lachlan Mitchell, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Luke Jones, 19 Gareth Delve, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Kimaumi Sitauti.

Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Andriess Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Don Armond, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Gary van Aswegan, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.

Date: Friday, May 17
Time: 19:35 (7:35 GMT)
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
Television match official: Matt Goddard (Australia)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
International Match
Saturday , November 1
Barbarians vs Australia14:30
USA vs New Zealand15:00
More International Match fixtures
LV= Cup
Saturday , November 1
Sale Sharks vs Wasps14:00
Exeter vs Gloucester15:00
Bath vs London Welsh15:00
London Irish vs Leicester15:00
Northampton vs Newcastle16:00
Sunday , November 2
Saracens vs Harlequins13:00
More LV= Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs EdinburghLeinster vs Edinburgh Preview
Glasgow vs Benetton TrevisoGlasgow vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Ospreys vs ConnachtOspreys vs Connacht Preview
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs Munster17:15
Scarlets vs Zebre18:00
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 1
Lyon vs Toulouse13:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
La Rochelle vs Montpellier18:30
Brive vs Castres18:30
Bayonne vs Clermont Auvergne20:45
Sunday , November 2
Toulon vs Grenoble13:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Castres 16 - 21 LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Report
Clermont Auvergne 35 - 3 Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Report
Benetton Treviso 10 - 26 Racing Metro 92
Wasps 16 - 23 HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Report
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
Oyonnax 15 - 25 Gloucester
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Western Province 19 - 16 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615