PREVIEW: Highlanders v Stormers
Thursday, March 8, 2018 allblacks.com Getty Images
Wins: Highlanders 11, Stormers 8, Draws 1
Super Rugby is a tough competition and nothing puts a team under as much pressure as an offshore tour. The Stormers will be hoping to end their tour on a high after a last minute loss to the Waratahs and a high-scoring defeat to the defending champions Crusaders. Despite the losses, the Stormers showed plenty of promise – particularly in scoring four tries against the Crusaders. The Highlanders are coming off a bye but won their only match against the Blues by 41-34.
QUICK TAP: HIGHLANDERS WANT TO GET MOMENTUM BACK AGAINST STORMERS
The Stormers boast a backline full of speedsters and game breakers, but perhaps none are as dangerous as the electric Damian de Allende at second five-eighth. Last week the hulking mid-fielder beat eight defenders and kept the Crusaders talented midfield of Ryan Crotty and Jack Goodhue busy with his incisive ball running and silky link-play. de Allende will be looking to get on top of his opposite Tei Walden early and free up space for his speedy outside backs SP Marais, Raymond Rhule and Dillyn Leyds.
The biggest talking point of the Highlanders starting fifteen is the inclusion of debutant Tevita Nabura on the wing in place of Tevita Li. The 107kg Fiji-born flyer starred for Counties Manukau in the Mitre 10 Cup last year and is set to form a lethal wing combination with Waisake Naholo. With pace to burn and lethal finishing ability, Nabura will be looking to make his debut a memorable one in front of the Highlanders faithful at Forsyth-Barr Stadium.
The Highlanders have won their last seven games on home turf, scoring 40+ points in all but one of those fixtures. (OPTA)
It’s been a tough tour for the Stormers but one they will deem a success if they can sneak victory in Dunedin. That’s easier said than done with the Highlanders on a hot run at home and memories of their 57-14 loss to the Highlanders last year still fresh. We think the Highlanders should have too much firepower for the Stormers and will run away with this in the back-end of the game.
Highlanders: Ben Smith (captain), Waisake Naholo, Rob Thompson, Tei Walden, Tevita Nabura, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Luke Whitelock, Dillon Hunt, Liam Squire, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves: Greg Pleasants-Tate, Aki Seiuli, Tyrel Lomax, Shannon Frizell, Elliot Dixon, Josh Renton, Fletcher Smith, Matt Faddes.
Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Dean Muir, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit (George Whitehead), 21 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 22 Justin Phillips, 23 JJ Engelbrecht.
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