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SR18 Preview: Stormers v Blues {17-3-18}

The Blues will be out for revenge when they take on the Stormers in what promises to be an exciting showdown at Newlands on Saturday.

The Stormers have dominated this fixture in recent seasons and won five of their last six games against the Blues, with their sole loss in that time coming by a margin of just one point in 2013.

The home side are on a three-match losing streak after suffering defeats to the Waratahs, Crusaders and Highlanders but have won nine of their last 10 regular-season home games, only losing to fellow South African side the Lions in that time.

The Blues meanwhile are on a high after claiming their first win of the season in dramatic fashion against the Lions (38-35) last weekend will be looking for a second win in South Africa in a single season for the first time since 2008, when they picked up big wins against the Lions (55-10) and Cheetahs (50-26).

Blues head coach Tana Umaga said the side is well motivated and determined to build on that winning effort against the Lions.

“We are naturally pleased with the result and with many aspects of our performance last week, but we also realize that we must continue to improve every week,” he explained.

“The Stormers have had the wood on us in recent years and we need to work very hard this week to prepare for what will be another tough encounter here in South Africa.

“There were many parts of our game that were pleasing last week but we gave away two tries and did not cherish our possession enough.

“We can’t afford to give the Stormers the same opportunities that we gave the Lions, but at the same time we want to play with the same level of commitment, aggression and belief.”

Team news: Outside back Craig Barry is in line to make his Stormers debut when they take on the Blues in Cape Town. The 25-year-old recently returned to the Stormers squad after spending some time on loan with the Cheetahs and could feature against the Auckland side if he comes off the replacements bench in this Super Rugby encounter.

Several players and members of the Stormers management team have been struck down with a serious flu virus this week and as a result the team may change on matchday depending on how they progress. In the backline, Dillyn Leyds moves to full-back in place of the injured SP Marais and JJ Engelbrecht starts on the wing, with Barry providing cover.

The only change to the pack at this stage sees Pieter-Steph du Toit return to play at blindside flank and a fit-again Cobus Wiese among the replacements after Kobus van Dyk was ruled out due to illness.

Meanwhile, there is only one injury-forced change to the Blues starting XV for this fixture. Prop Alex Hodgman has been ruled out with an arm injury which forced his early departure in the win against the Lions last weekend, with his replacement Pauliasi Manu to start against the Stormers.

The rest of the starting side is the same as the Blues line-up that edged the Lions 38-35 on full-time at Johannesburg last weekend. Manu, one of the standout performers last week, will play his 20th and blazer game for the Blues to go with his 49 Super Rugby caps for the Chiefs.

There is a change to a more conventional 5-3 split in the reserves this week, after coach Tana Umaga opted for six forwards on the bench for the game at altitude last weekend. This allows for the hard-running midfielder George Moala to make an impact off the bench.

Previous results:

2017: Stormers won 30-22 in Cape Town
2015: Stormers won 27-16 in Cape Town
2013: Blues won 18-17 in Auckland
2012: Stormers won 27-17 in Cape Town
2011: Stormers won 28-26 in Auckland
2010: Stormers won 33-21 in Auckland
2009: Blues won 14-08 in Cape Town
2008: Blues won 17-14 in Auckland
2007: Stormers won 33-20 in Cape Town

The teams:

Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 JJ Engelbrecht, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian De Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Dean Muir, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Cobus Wiese, 21 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 22 Justin Phillips, 23 Craig Barry

Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Pauliasi Manu
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Ross Wright/Sione Mafileo, 18 Mike Tamoaieta, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 George Moala

Date: Saturday, March 17
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 15:05 local (13:05 GMT)
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Christie du Preez (South Africa)



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