Week 8: 1:00 AM Sunday morning brings us a top of the table clash of monumental proportions. The Stormers play their Rugby out of Cape Town and bring power and an almost impenetrable defence to the game. While the Queensland Reds bring speed and unpredictable attacking flair. They are two very good teams playing to two very different game plans.
The Stormers have kept the team from the win against the Sharks. This is never a good sign for opposition sides looking to move up the Ladder. They will try to dominate with their magnificently balanced forward pack and play for field position off the boot of Peter Grant. The back 3 of Poolman, Habana and Aplon will put the high ball up from almost every downtown kick they come across and chase with a vengeance. What they don’t kick they will run back with aplomb. Fourie and De Villiers are the most formidable centre pairing in South Africa and bring power, size and experience to the game. But none of the things I have mentioned are the best part of their game. That’s their defence. It smothers you. It knocks you back on your heals and hurts you. It’s a machine that only works with the right Coaches, the right Players and the right Attitude! Somehow everything fell into place and delivered all 3 to Cape town.
The Reds have made changes. Lots of them! Three player changes and one positional change in the forwards and four positional changes in the backs. Greg Holmes moves out of the squad for Ben Daley and Guy Shepherdson comes on to the bench for his first run for the Reds. This weakens the Scrum but improves the Reds work around the field. Hanson comes in for Saia Fiangaa. Hanson has looked good finishing off games now we get to see what he can do at the front end. Scott Higginbotham Moves into Houston’s #8 slot and Radiki Samo replaces him at Blindside Flanker. This give the Reds a wealth of tall timber but still nothing to compete with 208 cm of Andreas Bekker who is the Stormers go to man in the lineout. The changes give to give the Reds more grunt up front, only time will tell if it works.
In the Backs nearly everything outside Quade Cooper is different. The Harris at fullback experiment has been canned and he moves to the more familiar inside centre position.To accommodate him Anthony Fiangaa moves to out centre, Digby Ioanne moves back to the wing and Luke Morahan goes to fullback. This seems a better fit than last week the only concern being Fiangaa’s ability to defend in the 13 channel, But this seems to be covered by Will Chambers return to the bench.
As a Reds supporter this is a hard game to be confident about. The Stormers are class right across the field. The Reds love playing South African teams and lately seem to lift for big games. Who can forget them knocking the Bulls off at Lang Park last year just back from a 4 week road trip! This is all together a bigger challenge. They face a team on a winning streak, in front of their rabid home crowd with something to prove. The neighbours are in for another torrid weekend because I will be screaming my guts out Sunday morning riding the Reds home to their biggest win in South Africa! QUEENSLANDER!
Reds by 5
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referee: Pro Legoete (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Stormers:15. Gio Aplon,14. Danie Poolman,13. Jaque Fourie,12. Jean De Villiers,11. Bryan Habana,10. Peter Grant,9. Dewaldt Duvenage,8. Duane Vermeulen,7. Francois Louw,6. Schalk Burger (C),5. Andries Bekker,4. Rynhardt Elstadt,3. Juan Harris,2. Deon Fourie,1. Wicus Blaauw
Reserves:16. Ethienne Reynecke,17. CJ Van Der Linde,18. De Kock Steenkamp,19. Nick Koster,20. Ricky Januarie,21. Gary Van Aswegen ,22. Juan De Jongh
Reds team : Luke Morahan, Rod Davies, Anthony Faingaa, Mike Harris, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia (vc), Scott Higginbotham, Beau Robinson, Radike Samo, James Horwill (c), Rob Simmons, James Slipper, James Hanson, Ben Daley.
Reserves: Saia Faingaa, Guy Shepherdson, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Leroy Houston, Liam Gill, Ian Prior, Will Chambers.