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PREVIEW: Stormers v Chiefs

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Friday, April 7, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

ROUND 7: Stormers v Chiefs, 3.15am (NZT) Sunday 9 April, Cape Town

TALE OF THE TAPE
Unbeaten, the Stormers have dominated their African Conference but face their first significant test of the competition against the Chiefs, who have their own impressive run of form being unbeaten in their last four games. However, the confidence boost with high-scoring wins over the Kings (41-10), the Sunwolves (44-31) and the Cheetahs (53-10) in their last three games will ensure they look to utilise the same attacking forces. But against a Chiefs side that has beaten the Hurricanes (26-18), the Rebels away (27-14) and the Bulls (28-12) that is a game type that will need to be assured in its execution because if it is not the Chiefs will make the Stormers pay.

QUICK TAP: CHIEFS READY FOR STORMERS BACKLASH

LOCKING NIRVANA
If there is one part of this contest that will have diehards salivating it is the lineout battle. The Cape side can offer up Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit, Springboks both, while the Chiefs respond with Brodie Retallick and Dominic Bird, both with All Blacks status. The South Africans enjoy superior height, but not by much, while the New Zealanders are typically more robust around the field with ball in hand. They are all key contributors to the grunt level in their respective front fives and will be pivotal to the final outcome. Bird has grown this year and offers invaluable support for Retallick who remains the trendsetter in the world game.

CONTROL IN THE LOOSE
Another key area will be the battle in the loose where the Stormers' Cobus Wiese and Siya Kolisi are experienced combatants to which the Chiefs can respond with possibly even greater gravitas in Liam Messam and Michael Leitch. But they can also throw in one of the emerging figures on the loose forward scene in New Zealand, Lachlan Boshier. Competition for places in the loose forwards in the Chiefs is dynamic this year with Sam Cane the kingpin, but unavailable for this weekend's game, Boshier and Mitch Karpik. Whoever gets the chance to play knows he has to contribute in a big way because the competition is breathing down his neck. So far Boshier has taken his chances willingly.

TEAMS:

Stormers: 1.JC Janse van Rensburg, 2.Bongi Mbonambi, 3.Wilco Louw, 4.Eben Etzebeth, 5.Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6.Cobus Wiese, 7.Siya Kolisi (captain), 8.Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 9.Dewald Duvenage, 10.Robert du Preez, 11.Dillyn Leyds, 12.Dan du Plessis, 13.EW Viljoen, 14.Cheslin Kolbe, 15.SP Marais.

Substitutes: 16.Ramone Samuels, 17.Oli Kebble, 18.Frans Malherbe, 19.Jan de Klerk, 20.Nizaam Carr, 21.Justin Phillips, 22.Kurt Coleman, 23.Dan Kriel.

Chiefs: 1.Kane Hames, 2.Hika Elliot, 3.Atu Moli, 4.Dominic Bird, 5.Brodie Retallick, 6.Liam Messam, 7.Lachlan Boshier, 8.Michael Leitch, 9.Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 10.Aaron Cruden, 11.James Lowe, 12.Stephen Donald, 13.Anton Lienert-Brown, 14.Toni Pulu, 15.Damian McKenzie.

Substitutes: 16.Brayden Mitchell, 17.Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 18.Sosefo Kautai, 19.Taleni Seu, 20.Mitchell Brown, 21.Finlay Christie, 22.Sam McNicol, 23.Shaun Stevenson.