Stormers and Reds under equal pressure
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.