Super Rugby 2017: Stormers v Blues Preview

Super-Rugby-2017-Brum-v-Lions-previewThe Stormers will be looking to make home ground advantage pay when they host the Auckland Blues this Friday evening.

Friday evening at Newlands will see the Stormers, coming off a bye, host a Blues outfit that put fifty past the Cheetahs last week. The Stormers will welcome a return to familiar territory this Friday, after losing all three of their matches in New Zealand, as well as to the Lions in Round 8. With the likes of Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit expected to be fit; they will be confident of downing Tana Umaga’s Blues boys.

Stormers v Blues | Friday 19 May | DHL Newlands | 19:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Stormers 1/1 | Draw 22/1 | Blues 8/10

Siya Kolisi’s Capetonians have not had the greatest last few weeks by any stretch of the imagination. After defeating the Chiefs in a Newlands blockbuster in April, they proceeded to lose to the Lions at home, and then to the Crusaders, Highlanders and Hurricanes in New Zealand, in consecutive weeks. Despite so much initial promise, the harsh results this bunch has experienced over the past month or so may just be the reality check they need to move forward.

Robbie Fleck has urged his charges to play a more expansive game this season and, while it did pay off handsomely in the earlier rounds, the results of their games against the Lions and the rest of the Kiwis prove that there is still much work to be done. They may revert back to a slightly more pragmatic game this weekend, as they look to claim their second NZ scalp of the competition, but you can bet your hat and coat that they will give it horns no matter what.

Should the Springbok lock pairing of Etzebeth and du Toit return, the Stormers will dominate at the line-out and scrum. Gain-line dominance could see the likes of Dillyn Leyds and EW Viljoen exploit a tiring Blues backline during the latter stages, while SP Marais is sure to have a say from the back on the counter.

The Aucklanders may continue to blow hot and cold this term, but last week’s 50-32 win over the Cheetahs was comprehensive. The reason they conceded those 32-points was down to their eagerness to throw the ball around, but they will definitely be wary of doing the same at Newlands – they certainly cannot afford to play as loosely against the Stormers. Theirs is a much more disciplined defensive-orientated squad, and the Blues will do tremendously well to score three or more tries this weekend.

One major concern for coach Umaga will be matching the Stormers’ physical challenge this week. The Blues seriously battled in this department against the Cheetahs, especially against their rolling-maul, and this would surely have been a big focus point for the men from the capital. Coming up against such big men, the Blues will look to avoid getting into a physical scrap and perhaps avoid contact as much as possible. They will look to exploit the areas out wide with their pacey wingers, but will do well to put one over their opponents this Friday.

Verdict: Stormers 1/1
The Stormers will outmuscle and outmanoeuvre the Blue this weekend. They will look to bash it up with the forwards as much as possible, and only play more expansively once their opponents have been worn out. They should claim a bonus-point victory here.

Written by Shaun Goosen for!

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