Stormers look to maintain winning run
February 25, 2010
Winger Bryan Habana opened his account with the Stormers against the Waratahs last weekend © Getty Images
The unbeaten Stormers entertain the Brumbies at Newlands on Friday in the pick of the latest round of Super 14 action.
The hosts enter the clash on the back of victories over the Lions in Round 1 and the fancied Waratahs last weekend while the Brumbies made a winning start to their campaign against the Force before coming off second best against the Bulls in Pretoria. The Brumbies will be chasing their first win at Newlands Stadium since 2004 when they defeated the Stormers 33-15.
The Stormers have been stripped of captain Schalk Burger who is sidelined with a hamstring injury with Pieter Louw taking his place on the flank after a very impressive performance as a susbtitute last Saturday. Lock Andries Bekker is rewarded for his man of the match display against the Waratahs with the captaincy in Burger's absence.
"Obviously Schalla is a big blow for the team, as your captain and as a world class player, but when Schalla moves out there's an opportunity for Pieter Louw whose got more than 50 caps for WP," said head coach Allister Coetzee. "We've got no doubt this year in our back-up players. All is well with our depth and I'm very pleased with where we are. Dries took over the captaincy last week when we were under pressure and the whole side is quite a settled side and it just showed that the leadership has grown a bit and that's a good position to be in."
Coetzee said Burger's injury was a grade one tear and that normally requires a 10 to 14 day recovery time. "We want to make sure he has the best possible time to recover fully. We don't want have this become a chronic thing. We want to be fair on Schalla because there's a long season ahead and when he comes back we want to make sure he continues to play as many games as possible."
Ricky Januarie also celebrated his return to the starting XV with a accomplished performance last weekend and retains his place ahead of Dewaldt Duvenhage, who was the first-choice scrumhalf last season. "It's just a matter of the challenges we're faced with in the week and the best way to exploit them and that's what I base my selection on," explained Coetzee. "Ricky played well last week and you guys would have written me off if I hadn't selected him this week."
The Brumbies have made one change to the side over-powered by the Bulls last time out with lock Ben Hand making his first run-on appearance of 2010 having started every game in 2009. Hand replaces Justin Harrison in the second row with the veteran lock to start from the bench. Hand will pack down alongside Mark Chisholm behind the front row of Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore and Salesi Ma'afu.
After making his return to Super Rugby in Pretoria last weekend, flanker Rocky Elsom will once again combine with fellow back-rowers Stephen Hoiles and George Smith, whose try last week was his first since 2006. The Brumbies' backline has remained untouched with Josh Valentine and Matt Giteau teaming up in the halves while Stirling Mortlock and Christian Lealiifano again form the centre pairing. Adam Ashley-Cooper, Francis Fainifo and Pat McCabe, who scored his first Super 14 try last weekend, make up the Brumbies' back three. The replacement bench also includes Matt Tooma who featured for the Cape Town-based Western Province in last year's Currie Cup.
Brumbies Head Coach Andy Friend believes his side will require a more sustained effort against the Stormers this weekend. "Last week was a valuable eye-opener for us in that we understand if you play well for only 50 minutes you won't get you the result," he said. "In saying that, I was pleased with how we did front up in that first half and if we can string an 80-minute performance like that together it'll stand us in good stead.
"However, one thing we do need to improve is our discipline. We've conceded 15 and 21 points respectively in penalty goals over the past two weeks, so we'll be doing what we can to ensure we stay on the right side of those 50-50 decisions. There's no doubt Friday's game is a key one for us. If we can leave Perth and South Africa with two wins from the first three weeks - and seven of our next nine matches at home, it has the potential to set you up for a successful season."
Stormers: Joe Pietersen; Gio Aplon, Jaque Fourie, Juan De Jongh, Bryan Habana; Peter Grant, Ricky Januarie; Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Pieter Louw, Andries Bekker (c), De Kock Steenkamp, Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, JC Kritzinger
Replacements: Deon Fourie, Eusebio Guinazu, Anton Van Zyl, Pieter Myburgh, Dewaldt Duvenage, Lionel Cronje, Sireli Naqelevuki
Brumbies: Adam Ashley Cooper; Pat McCabe, Stirling Mortlock, Christian Lealiifano, Francis Fainifo; Matt Giteau, Josh Valentine; Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Salesi Ma'afu, Ben Hand, Mark Chisholm, Rocky Elsom, George Smith, Stephen Hoiles (c)
Replacements: Huia Edmonds, Guy Shepherdson, Justin Harrison, Mitchell Chapman, Patrick Phibbs, Matt Toomua, Tyrone Smith