Stormers Look To Maintain Perfect Start

The Stormers will be keen to protect their 100% start to the  Vodacom Super Rugby season on Saturday when they entertain the Sharks at Newlands.  Kick off is at 19:10 and the visitors will be looking to bounce back after suffering a defeat to the Bulls last weekend.  Jaco Peyper will be the man in charge of the action.

The DHL Stormers backline and their replacements are unchanged, but there are a number of changes among the forwards.  Siya Kolisi comes in for the injured Michael Rhodes at flank and Scarra Ntubeni takes over at hooker from Bongi Mbonambi.  The home team will also play with a new lock pairing in Eben Etzebeth and Manuel Carizza, in for the injured Jurie Van Vuuren and Ruan Botha.  It will be Etzebeth’s first Super Rugby match since the last round in 2013.  Jean Kleyn is the lock replacement and will be joined on the bench by Schalk Burger, back from club duty in Japan, as well as Neil Rautenbach (hooker) and Alistair Vermaak (prop).

For the Cell C Sharks three Springboks, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn (both back from club duty in Japan) and Willem Alberts (back from injury), will start.  The KwaZulu-Natalians will start with two new props in Matt Stevens and Thomas Du Toit.  André Esterhuizen, Renaldo Bothma and Dale Chadwick shift to the bench, while Heimar Williams is out of the match-23.  Jean Deysel has been ruled out of action for up to six weeks with an ankle injury.

Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie is the top points’ scorer thus far in 2015, with 58 points in three matches and has been successful with 20 from his 24 kicks at goal.  Gary Gold’s side has averaged more points scored (31) and conceded (30) per match than any other team this year.  Despite an unbeaten start to the 2015 season, Allister Coetzee’s charges have lost two of their last three home matches against the Durban franchise – last year by 34-10 and the semi-final in 2012 by 26-19.  Fans expecting a try fest are in for a potential disappointment.  Try-scoring bonus-points are few and far between when these sides clash in Cape Town – the hosts have done it three times in 11 matches, and the KZN side only once.

Coach Coetzee says:  ‘For us, it’s all about improving on last week’s performance against the Lions, as we were unhappy with a lot of things that came out of the match.  We’re expecting a ferocious onslaught from a powerful and experienced Sharks team, who were unlucky to lose away last weekend.  We’re certainly not reading anything into that defeat to the Bulls, in fact, we know that will only make the Sharks more dangerous.’  Gold said:  ‘We are in a fortunate position that we have experienced Springbok players that have either recovered from injury or have returned from Japan.  We are excited to have them back and involved in our matchday squad.  We also have commitments to SA Rugby to rest selected players.  The Stormers are the in-form team in South Africa at present and we playing them in front of their passionate home crowd.  We are under no illusions about how tough the challenge is going to be.  This probably is going to be a tougher battle than last week.  Our squad has had a good training week and are determined to get our campaign back on a winning track.’

DHL Stormers: Cheslin Kolbe, Johnny Kotze, Juan De Jongh, Damian De Allende, Dillyn Leyds, Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom, Duane Vermeulen (captain), Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Manuel Carizza, Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: Neil Rautenbach, Alistair Vermaak, Frans Malherbe, Jean Kleyn, Schalk Burger, Louis Schreuder, Kurt Coleman, Huw Jones.

Sharks: SP Marais, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Cobus Reinach, Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Pieter-Steph Du Toit, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Matt Stevens, Bismarck Du Plessis (captain), Thomas Du Toit.
Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick, Lourens Adriaanse, Marco Wentzel, Renaldo Bothma, Conrad Hoffmann, André Esterhuizen, Jack Wilson.