Storm­ers and Reds un­der equal pres­sure

Weekend Witness - - Sport - STEPHEN NELL

CAPE TOWN — The man­age­ment team of the Storm­ers face changes as their em­bat­tled play­ers pre­pare to face the Reds in Bris­bane to­day.

From what could be learnt this week, the po­si­tions of the Storm­ers back line coach, Rob­bie Fleck and the team man­ager Chip­pie Solomon are in jeop­ardy. Gert Smal and Hen­ning Ger­icke will prob­a­bly be re­as­signed as di­rec­tor of rugby and psy­chi­a­trist.

The team ex­pect to have an­swers by next week, but fans are mean­while won­der­ing what im­pact, if any, the un­cer­tainty will have on the player.

If the Storm­ers lose, the team will have reached a low point in its his­tory, with four losses in away matches and only one win from six games.

The Cape fans are al­ready more than fed up and the at­ten­dance at New­lands can dwin­dle if the Storm­ers do not deliver some­thing spe­cial to­day — de­spite play­ing with their backs to the wall.

These are also the times that re­veal how close the ties are be­tween all the par­ties in­volved.

De­spite the string of de­feats to date, the Storm­ers have not yet reached that point where one can say that they are no play­ing for each other, their man­age­ment or their brand.

And be­ing the un­der­dogs may help to pro­vide the col­lec­tive strength to achieve the im­prob­a­ble.

An­other fac­tor which may play a role in giv­ing the Storm­ers fans some­thing to cheer about is that the Reds are also un­der a lot of pres­sure — hav­ing lost three of five matches. Both teams will fo­cus on putting pres­sure on the scrum halves, and the Wal­laby’s pair Will Ge­nia and Quade Cooper can ex­pect as much pres­sure be­hind the scrums as Louis Schreuder and Peter Grant of the Storm­ers.

Lachie Turner, Rod Davies, Ben Ta­puai, Mike Har­ris, Dom Ship­per­ley, Quade Cooper, Will Ge­nia, Jake Schatz, Beau Robin­son, Ed­die Quirk, James Hor­will (k), Rob Sim­mons, Greg Holmes, James Han­son, James Slip­per. Re­place­ments: Saia Fainga’a, Al­bert Anae, Jono Owen, Ed O’Donoghue, Cur­tis Brown­ing, Nick Frisby, Anthony Fainga’a, Ben Lu­cas.

Gio Aplon, Damian de Al­lende, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Vil­liers (k), Sailosi Tag­i­cak­ibau, Peter Grant, Louis Schreuder, Duane Ver­meulen, Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Michael Rhodes, Jurie van Vu­uren, Frans Mal­herbe, Deon Fourie, Steven Kit­shoff. Re­place­ments: Stephan Coet­zee, Oliver Keb­ble, Brok Har­ris, Tazz Fuzani, Sikhum­buzo Not­she, Nic Groom, Demetri Ca­trak­ilis, Jaco Taute. JO­HAN­NES­BURG — Two op­pos­ing play­ing philoso­phies will be put to the test when the Bulls and Chiefs meet in a Su­per Rugby match at Lof­tus Vers­feld in Pre­to­ria to­day.

On the one hand, there are the Bulls who play a tac­ti­cal kick­ing game and, on the other, the Chiefs who avoid putting the ball to boot.

“If you look at the Chiefs, they are the team that kick the least in the com­pe­ti­tion, so they are dan­ger­ous if you give them the ball,” said Bulls stand­in cap­tain Vic­tor Mat­field.

“They hold the ball for a lot of phases and they are the team that con­cede the least turnovers, al­though they keep the ball the most.”

The Bulls will be ea­ger to start their tour of Aus­trala­sia next week on a pos­i­tive note, with a vic­tory over one of the leading teams in the com­pe­ti­tion.

The Chiefs’ 61­17 hu­mil­i­a­tion at the hands of the Bulls in the 2009 Su­per14 fi­nal would be long for­got­ten af­ter the tourists won the com­pe­ti­tion in both 2012 and 2013.

They pose a dif­fi­cult chal­lenge for the Bulls with three vic­to­ries and one loss since the start of the sea­son.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said while al­ti­tude may be an ally against vis­it­ing teams, he be­lieved the Chiefs would be well­pre­pared for the game.

“The New Zealand sides in the past have toured well and all of them have a strat­egy, but that is not our fo­cus. We need to play well, we can’t get into al­ti­tude talk,” Ludeke said.

The hosts have re­cently found their straps and won three matches on the trot for a place among the top six.

Se­nior play­ers like Jac­ques­Louis Pot­gi­eter and Mat­field played an in­flu­en­tial role in their resur­gence and had led by ex­am­ple. Mat­field said it was cru­cial not to get sucked into a de­fen­sive mind­set against a dan­ger­ous, at­tack­ing side.

“The Chiefs are very ac­cu­rate with what they do. Firstly, it is for us not to give them bro­ken field or if we give them bro­ken field, it must be on our terms, and the sec­ond thing is we need to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for our­selves to at­tack,” he said.

“We can’t just go out there and de­fend and make 200 tack­les and only have the ball for 50 car­ries. We need to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties on at­tack for our­selves so that they should de­fend as well.”

While the match­ups be­tween them are evenly poised, with the Chiefs hav­ing won eight of the last 16 games, with one match end­ing in a stale­mate, the Bulls have won four of their last five matches.

— Sapa.

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