Planet Rugby

Preview: Brumbies v Stormers

20th March 2014 16:51

Share:

The Stormers will be looking for their first win on a gruelling overseas tour in Canberra on Saturday against the Brumbies.

Are the Cape Town side in a crisis? That depends which side of the fence you sit. On the one hand the have won just one of their opening four matches and sit 13 points behind leaders the Sharks.

The gameplan and style is unimaginative - Gio Aplon aside - and injuries have ravaged their squad depth at lock. No team in the competition has scored fewer tries or made less offloads. Their set-piece is average.

That's the bad stuff anyway, and it is bad. This is a team that was challenging for the playoffs a few years back, who reached back-to-back semi-finals in 2011 and 2012 - topping the league that year - and lost in the final to the Bulls in 2010.

There's hope however in the way the Stormers have played over the last two weeks against the Crusaders and the Chiefs. They went down by a point in Christchurch and hauled themselves back to only trailing 24-20 against the champions.

Plus, Schalk Burger has looked reborn on this tour - flying into rucks and tackles and carrying with purpose.

Sadly those negatives outweigh the positives. The lock pairing for Canberra of Ruan Botha and Michael Rhodes are sadly nowhere near the level of Eben Etzebeth, De Kock Steenkamp and Manuel Carizza. All three are out injured.

Given the Stormers' line-out has only run at a success rate of 81 percent anyway, the 10th best in the competition, it's difficult to see how they will secure enough set-piece ball to compete against a tight Brumbies unit.

Welcoming back Peter Grant puts a familiar set of hands back on the tiller in place of the talented Demetri Catrakilis, while Sailosi Tagicakibau can make something out of nothing.

That won't be enough against the Brumbies though. An impressive win over the Waratahs last week was a big result for Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher considering the number of players they currently have out injured.

The Waratahs have looked resurgent this season too, so palming them off at home to maintain a two-point lead at the top of the Australian Conference is a great scoop.

Jesse Mogg in particular will have loved getting the better of Israel Folau in a foot-race.

In a way it feels like business as normal for the Brumbies following the departure of Jake White, with three wins from four.

Injuries are doing the best to derail their plans with Henry Speight the latest man to drop out, so Joe Tomane's return is well-timed.

This and next week's games against the Stormers and Rebels are must-wins with a tough run following against the Blues, Reds and Chiefs - which means banking as many points as possible.

The Stormers defence though is stubborn. Nic White and Matt Toomua have been dynamic so far in picking apart opposing sides, leading to 11 tries, but patience will be required against Allister Coetzee's tourists.

It just feels like a game too far on the third leg of a physically and mentally gruelling tour for the Stormers, who are yet to produce a complete performance.

Prediction: With Tomane back and the Brumbies back dominating the set-piece, this should be a good home win. Brumbies by eight.

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Ruaidhri Murphy, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Stephan Van Der Walt, 23 Lionel Cronje.

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Michael Rhodes, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Juan de Jongh.

Date: Saturday, March 22
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.40 local (08.40 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins vs Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Preview
Saturday , November 22
Exeter vs Wasps15:00
London Irish vs Bath15:00
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs Northampton13:00
London Welsh vs Leicester Tigers15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 22
Italy vs South Africa15:00
Scotland vs Tonga14:30
Ireland vs Australia16:30
Wales vs New Zealand17:30
England vs Samoa19:00
France vs Argentina21:00
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 21
Dragons vs MunsterDragons vs Munster Preview
Scarlets vs Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Preview
Connacht vs ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Preview
Ulster vs OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs Leinster14:30
Edinburgh vs Cardiff Blues16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
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
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
Tonga 40 - 12 USATonga vs USA Report
Wales 17 - 13 FijiWales vs Fiji Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 14
Gloucester 15 - 22 HarlequinsGloucester vs Harlequins Report
Northampton 18 - 24 ExeterNorthampton vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 18 - 20 ArgentinaItaly vs Argentina Report
Canada 13 - 23 SamoaCanada vs Samoa Report
More International Match results
LV= Cup
Cardiff Blues 19 - 13 Scarlets
Ospreys 35 - 51 DragonsOspreys vs Dragons Report
Sunday , November 9
Wasps 43 - 22 London Irish
London Welsh 9 - 18 Gloucester
Leicester 29 - 13 Sale SharksLeicester vs Sale Sharks Report
More LV= Cup results
International Match
Saturday , November 8
Italy 24 - 13 SamoaItaly vs Samoa Report
Wales 28 - 33 AustraliaWales vs Australia Report
England 21 - 24 New ZealandEngland vs New Zealand Report
Georgia 9 - 23 TongaGeorgia vs Tonga Report
Ireland 29 - 15 South AfricaIreland vs South Africa Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton726
2Exeter724
3Bath724
4Saracens724
5Wasps720