The Stormers defence will be tested when they host the Reds on Saturday.
The Stormers impressed with the quality of their forward play and tactical kicking in the win against the Brumbies in round four. Their defence was outstanding in the subsequent match against the Jaguares.
Following the bye in round six, however, the Stormers have been more erratic. They slipped 30 tackles in the win over the Sunwolves. While the defence managed to pressure the Lions during the earlier stages of the clash at Ellis Park, the Stormers missed 25 tackles over the course of 80 minutes.
The Stormers will be favourites to beat the Reds at Newlands this Saturday. That said, they would be foolish to underestimate the side from Queensland, a side that beat the Highlanders two weeks ago.
In that fixture, the Reds outkicked the 2015 Super Rugby champions. They scored three tries against a side that doesn’t concede many.
The Reds were thumped 41-22 in their most recent match against the Bulls in Pretoria. And yet the Australians may fancy their chances of victory when they face the Stormers in Cape Town.
They certainly have a potential match-winner in Samu Kerevi. According to Opta-powered stats, the centre has scored four tries (rank 4), made 89 carries (rank 2), beaten 23 defenders (rank 5), and made 460m (rank 8). Kerevi will take some stopping this weekend.
The Stormers will field a different midfield combination. Springbok centre Damian de Allende returns to the starting side while Juan de Jongh has been ruled out due to concussion.
Coach Robbie Fleck has also rotated his front and back rows. With the likes of Schalk Burger, JC Janse van Rensburg and Vincent Koch on the bench, the Cape side should be the stronger of the two teams in the second stanza. They should win the game.
The big question is whether the Stormers can secure the try-scoring bonus point. They’ve already claimed two try-scoring bonus points this season (both at home).
The Reds have made two changes to their starting lineup for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash with the Stormers in Cape Town.
Both alternations come in the pack that lost to the Bulls last weekend, with lock Rob Simmons returning from a shoulder injury and Curtis Browning replacing injured number eight Jake Schatz.
Simmons’ return has shifted Cadeyrn Neville to the bench.
There are two further changes to the reserves, with flanker Michael Gunn brought into the match-day 23 for the first time since Round 1 and centre Duncan Paia’aua in line to play his first game for the Reds since Round 1 2015.
“It’s great to have Rob Simmons back in the starting side for this weekend’s match,” said Reds co-interim head coach Matt O’Connor.
“He’s an experienced campaigner and will add a bit of starch up front. We’ve also opted to retain Ben Matwijow in the starting side, after making his run-on debut last weekend – he stepped up, handled the extra responsibility well last weekend and deserves another opportunity.
“While it was unfortunate to lose Jake Schatz to injury last week, Curtis Browning is a very capable replacement, who has been doing good work for us all season. We also have Michael Gunn in the 23 this weekend who can provide us with a strong presence over the ball late in the game.
“Duncan Paia’aua has been training well this year and slowly working his way back into contention. He’s a talented footballer who offers us cover in a number of positions. We’re looking forward to seeing what he can do when he gets on to the field.
“There is no doubt in our minds how tough this match will be. The Stormers have been the most consistent South African team over the last couple of years and we know how good we’ll have to perform to get the result at Newlands on Saturday.”
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Stormers 10, Reds 8
In Cape Town: Stormers 6, Reds 2
STATS AND FACTS
– The Reds have won three of their last five matches against the Stormers, including the most recent match-up.
– Neither team has scored more than 23 points in any of the last five of these clashes.
– The Stormers have won five of their last seven matches, though a three-match winning streak was brought to an end in the last round in a seven-point loss to the Lions.
– The Reds’ only win in their last nine matches in South Africa was a one-point victory against the Cheetahs in round 10, 2015.
– The Stormers are one of three teams (Crusaders, Rebels) who are yet to concede a try after defending for seven or more phases.
– The Reds have conceded six tries after seven or more phases, the most of any team.
Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Frans Malherbe (c), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Huw Jones, 23 Brandon Thomson
Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Curtis Browning, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Ben Matwijow, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 James Slipper (C).
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Michael Gunn, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Ayumu Goromaru.
Date: Saturday, 23 April
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 15:00 local (13:00 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman; Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Shaun Veldsman