The Stormers aim to continue on Saturday what was started by the South Africa “A” side, and, to some extent, the Sharks before that, by taking some momentum away from the British and Irish Lions in their final game before the start of the Test series.
The Lions haven’t done what most would have expected them to do by naming a full-strength Test team for the Cape Town Stadium game, which will be played exactly one week before the Test series kicks off at the same venue.
But it is nonetheless an important game for them, and after their setback against the shadow Springbok Test team on Wednesday, they will want a comprehensive win against the Stormers to bolster their confidence on Saturday.
The curtain-raiser is SA “A” versus the Bulls at 1 pm, with Elton Janties leading the SA “A” team, while the main game follows at 6 pm.
The Warren Gatland-coached Lions opened the tour with one-sided wins against the Lions and the Sharks but their first false note of the tour came in the first half of a hastily arranged second game against the Sharks following the Covid-19 induced cancellation of the scheduled third game against the Bulls at Loftus last week.
The Lions came back to win by a huge margin at the end but the landslide was precipitated by the sending off of Sharks scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse early in the second half.
“We were definitely encouraged by what we saw the Sharks do at Loftus,” said Stormers coach John Dobson.
“They got in the faces of the Lions with their defence, and the way they played did expose some vulnerabilities which the SA ‘A’ team went even further with in midweek. We have noted what those two teams did and will try to apply that against the Lions.”
He is also realistic and knows that his team are up against it and will have to play well above themselves to be competitive and challenge for a win.
Dobson said Gatland would have his plans and it is up to the Stormers to try to stop him from getting the outcomes he will be looking for.
“Maybe Warren thinks it is an opportunity a week out from the Tests to get through some patterns, and we will do our best to disrupt them,” he said.
The Lions have chosen Marcus Smith, who flew out this week to join the tour party as cover for Finn Russell, to make his debut at flyhalf and Dobson reckons that the addition of the Harlequins and England player will add even further to the Lions’ attacking potency.
Meanwhile, the Sharks have released lock JJ van der Mescht early from his contract so he can join Stade Francais in France. He started out with the Sharks in 2018 and his last outing for them was against the touring Lions last weekend.