S15 preview - Lions v Stormers

Stormers (File)
Stormers (File)
Win away from home. Check. Get the other teams to notice you. Check. Flyhalf that can split the posts consistently. Check. One thing is certain, Elton Jantjies has a lot to prove if he wants to get back into the starting line-up – Marnitz Boshoff performed like a true general. This weekend he’ll be up against Stormers’ Demetri Catrakilis, one of only three South African pivots that I think have the ability to become a regular starter for the Boks.

There was nothing flash about the Lions’ win over the Cheetahs, truth be told, they were gifted those points by an underperforming side and should not expect the same favours in Round 2. Their recent success and playing at home in front of a motivated crowd will go some distance towards getting them into the next gear, but will that be enough?
Alwyn Hollenbach

Alwyn Hollenbach

Alwyn Hollenbach returns to the staring XI due to Lionel Mapoe being injured and I must ask where Stokkies Hanekom is. He stood out during the Currie Cup and I would’ve like to see these two partnered again. From the back Chrysander Botha can slice through the tiniest of gaps, but will he find any this Saturday. Gagga thinks they’ll target the boys that are still wet behind the ears.

Bar the loss of Andries Bekker (Japan) and Eben Etzebeth (Injured), the Stormers have a strong pack of forwards that will tackle anything that comes their way. Duane Vermeulen will set the pace, flanked by Siya Kolisi and Newlands’ favourite son, Schalk Burger. Any forward momentum will most likely rely on the efforts of this trio which will make for a very interesting battle at the breakdown with the Lions’ solid loosies.

I question Alistair Coetzee’s decision to start Schreuder, Scarra and Elstadt instead of Nic Groom, Deon Fourie and Michael Rhodes, but maybe that’s just my personal point of view as I didn’t see any of the trial runs and wouldn’t know how training went. One thing is do know is that Groom put his hand up in the warm-ups and should have been rewarded.
Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Known for their stifling defense, the Cape Townians will undoubtedly travel to Ellis Park set on keeping the ball among the forwards and kick for territory – much like the Bulls of old. Without Brian Habana (France), Juan de Jongh and Cheslin Kolbe (Injured) their attack loses a lot of oomph, and considering that they’ve never really had any to begin with, it’s highly unlikely that they swing the ball from left to right much. Jacobus van Wyk and Michael van der Spuy will make their first appearances at this level, filling the holes.

I foresee a good start to the season for the winemakers. They’ll be too strong up front and the experienced leadership of Jean de Villiers should see them through. Lions to be brought back down to earth.
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