Weekend Post (South Africa)

Stormers clash could prove real humdinger

- Craig Ray

THE Stormers and Jaguares have little history after a single‚ turgid Super Rugby clash last year‚ but today there is optimism that their 2017 encounter will raise the bar.

Last year the Stormers won 13-8 in a forgettabl­e slugfest in Buenos Aires‚ but this weekend’s match-up promises so much more after both teams impressed in week one.

The Stormers in particular were out of the blocks quickly against the Bulls‚ scoring five tries on their way to a 37-24 win at Newlands.

There was much to drool over about the Stormers’ performanc­e, but they are also far from the finished product.

How the Stormers overcome losing Damian de Allende to a long-term ankle injury is a key factor in how they will perform today and in the weeks ahead.

De Allende had a hand in most of the incisive backline moves last week and his place is not easily filled because he has a wide range of impressive skills.

Replacemen­t Dan Kriel is untested at this level but physically at least he, stacks up to De Allende in terms of size.

Whether Kriel has the nous to create opportunit­ies for those around him will be a major subplot in the match.

But for all the razzle- dazzle from the backs last week‚ it was the pack of forwards that dictated terms. Seldom‚ if ever‚ has a Stormers pack bullied the Bulls so convincing­ly as last week. Locks Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth were at the sharp end of the physical effort but the entire eight were immense.

The Stormers were naturally fired up for the Bulls‚ so it will be interestin­g to see if the pack‚ which sees one change with Sikhumbuzo Notshe coming in for Nizaam Carr‚ has the same ferocity this week.

They’ll need to bring that hard edge against the Jaguares‚ whose pack is filled with test stars‚ including hooker and captain Agustin Creevy and the impressive flank Pablo Matera.

The Jaguares struggled for the early part of their 39-26 win over the Southern Kings last week. But once they found their rhythm‚ the Ar- gentineans looked polished.

“The Jaguares are a tricky side to prepare for‚” Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said. “The Argentinea­n game has evolved and their rugby has improved.

“The Jaguares play a slightly less structured game compared with the Pumas at test level. The Jaguares want to keep the ball in hand and they have a licence to play what’s in front of them.

“That suggests they’re trying to develop their game and take it to a new level. They are dangerous when they get their wide game going.

“And it seems their discipline is better this year‚ which was an aspect that let them down in 2016.

“Having [Nicolas] Sanchez back at flyhalf is also a boost for them. They are a good side and if you aren’t at your best they will put you under pressure‚ both at set piece and broken play.

“It’s a good challenge and a different challenge from what we faced against the Bulls. We will be tested out wide and in broken play and that excites us because those are areas of our game where we think we have improved as well.” TEAMS: STORMERS: 15 SP Marais‚ 14 Cheslin Kolbe‚ 13 EW Viljoen‚ 12 Dan Kriel‚ 11 Dillyn Leyds‚ 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis‚ 9 Jano Vermaak‚ 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ 7 Siya Kolisi (capt)‚ 6 Rynhardt Elstadt‚ 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ 4 Eben Etzebeth‚ 3 Wilco Louw‚ 2 Bongi Mbonambi‚ 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.

Bench: 16 Ramone Samuels‚ 17 Oli Kebble‚ 18 Frans Malherbe‚ 19 Chris van Zyl‚ 20 Nizaam Carr‚ 21 Dewaldt Duvenage‚ 22 Robert du Preez‚ 23 Seabelo Senatla.

JAGUARES: 15 Joaquin Tuculet‚ 14 Ramiro Moyano‚ 13 Matias Orlando‚ 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente‚ 11 Santiago Cordero‚ 10 Nicolas Sanchez‚ 9 Gonzalo Bertranou‚ 8 Leonardo Senatore‚ 7 Tomas Lezana‚ 6 Pablo Matera‚ 5 Matias Alemanno‚ 4 Guido Petti‚ 3 Felipe Arregui‚ 2 Agustin Creevy (capt)‚ 1 Santiago Garcia Botta

Bench: 16 Julian Montoya‚ 17 Lucas Noguera Paz‚ 18 Cristian Bartoloni‚ 19 Marcos Kremer‚ 20 Benjamin Macome‚ 21 Felipe Ezcurra‚ 22 Santiago Gonzalez‚ 23 Matias Moroni. – TMG Digital/TMG Sport

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