QUARTERFINAL PREVIEW: Stormers v Chiefs
Thursday, July 20, 2017 Lynn McConnell Getty Images
TALE OF THE TAPE
In 20 games between the two sides the ledger shows 10 wins each. The Stormers during the year have suffered six losses and the Chiefs two. Going into Sunday's game the Stormers have won four of their last five games. They beat the Blues (30-22), lost to the Sharks (10-22), and beat the Cheetahs (40-34), the Sunwolves (52-15) and the Bulls (41-33). Since their Round 13 loss to the Crusaders (24-31) in Suva, the Chiefs have drawn with the Blues (16-16), and beaten the Waratahs (46-31), the Hurricanes (17-14) and the Brumbies (28-10).
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In the Stormers side, only 10 of those who were involved in the Stormers' 34-26 win over the Chiefs back in April are playing. One of the most significant changes is at first five-eighths while coach Robbie Fleck is without first choices Robert du Preez and Jean-Luc du Plessis. As a result he has resorted to 19-year-old Damien Willemse. The highly-rated youngster has started the side's last three games but a Super Rugby quarter final will be the toughest assignment yet for him. But Fleck has belief in the former South Africa Under-20 player. "Damien is special. He's been special throughout the junior ranks and now for us as well. He's been doing great in the past few games. I've told him he must just focus on his game and what makes him tick, even if it’s a quarter final." Team-mate Juan de Jongh said the senior players in the side would ensure Willemse doesn't stress out. "We need for him to mature now. It's important for him to learn from this, because he's got a bright future ahead. He is a guy who, whatever he does, has a lot of x-factor. The first thing that comes into his head he should execute, because that's what makes him special," he said.
METRE EATERS! Damian McKenzie (1514 metres) and James Lowe (1229 metres) have ran more metres than any other players in #SuperRugby 2017. pic.twitter.com/aPXg9Ypkrx— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) July 19, 2017HISTORY CALLS
The Chiefs know full well what to expect at Newlands, although they are hopeful they draw the support usually given to New Zealand sides from some local fans. But coach Dave Rennie acknowledged the task in front of the side. "We know it's going to be a massive occasion again, just like it was the last time. We made a couple of errors and got punished. We know we need to look after the ball, they've got a hell of a lot of firepower at the back and they've got a big pack. That's what we expect from a lot of the African sides. Hopefully, we can get a bit of pill and put some pressure on them this week," he said.
Stormers: 1.JC Janse van Rensburg, 2.Bongi Mbonambi, 3.Frans Malherbe, 4.Eben Etzebeth, 5.Pieter Steph du Toit, 6.Siya Kolisi (captain), 7.Rynhardt Elstadt, 8.Nizaam Carr, 9.Jano Vermaak, 10.Damian Willemse, 11.Dillyn Leyds, 12.Damian de Allende, 13.E.W. Viljoen, 14.Cheslin Kolbe, 15.S.P. Marais.
Substitutes: 16.Ramone Samuels, 17.Oli Kebble, 18.Wilco Louw, 19.Chris van Zyl, 20.Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21.Justin Phillips, 22.Seabelo Senatla, 23.Juan de Jongh.
Chiefs: 1.Kane Hames, 2.Nathan Harris, 3.Nepo Laulala, 4.Brodie Retallick, 5.Mitchell Brown, 6.Liam Messam, 7.Sam Cane (captain), 8.Michael Leitch, 9.Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 10.Aaron Cruden (captain), 11.James Lowe, 12.Stephen Donald, 13.Anton Lienert-Brown, 14.Solomon Alaimalo, 15.Damian McKenzie.
Substitutes: 16.Liam Polwart, 17.Aidan Ross, 18.Atu Moli, 19.Dominic Bird, 20.Lachlan Boshier, 21.Finlay Christie, 22.Tim Nanai-Williams, 23.Shaun Stevenson.
ROAD TO THE FINAL! Who are YOU picking to make the Investec #SuperRugby final? pic.twitter.com/l7mimSR12o— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) July 18, 2017
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