Match Preview: Stormers v Highlanders

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Friday, May 24, 2019    Getty Images

Match Detail: Stormers v Highlanders, DHL Newlands, Cape Town, Sunday 26 May 1.05am

Played: 21
Won: Stormers 8, Highlanders 12, 1 draw
Last time: Highlanders won 33-15 in Dunedin, 9 March 2018
Referee: Nic Berry

The Stormers find themselves at the bottom of the South African conference, but only four points behind the Lions who are third. They had a horrid start to their campaign with a 40-3a thumping at the hands of the Bulls. They bounced back and won three in a row against the Lions, Sharks and Jaguares. They lost to the Hurricanes and Blues in New Zealand and the Reds in Australia. They convincingly beat the Rebels 41-24a to end their Australasia tour. They then got home and narrowly lost to the Brumbies, beat the Bulls 24-23h and then loss to the Jaguares in Argentina. But they drew with competition leaders, the Crusaders at home last weekend, giving them confidence heading into this weekend. It’s also been an up and down season for the Highlanders in 2019. They kicked off their campaign with a 30-27a win over the Chiefs and a 36-31h win over the Reds. They then went on a serious slump. Losing on the road to the Rebels and Hurricanes, a draw with the Crusaders, and three more losses on the trot to the Blues, Hurricanes and Crusaders. But they’ve got themselves back on track and just inside the top eight. With victories over the Blues, Sunwolves and Jaguares. They drew with the Chiefs 31-31h and they loss last week to the Lions in Johannesburg.

Stormers halfback Herschel Jantjies sits in third place on the most passes table with 672. He’s just behind Will Genia from the Rebels. Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara is in first place with 687 passes. On another note, the Highlanders have scored 14 tries within the opening quarter of games in Super Rugby 2019. That’s more than any other team and nearly three times as many as the Stormers.
Last week, Waisake Naholo was named on the bench for their clash with the Lions. But he was scratched late in the piece, with Highlanders coaching staff wanting to give him one more week to recover from a knee injury. He hasn’t played since Round six, so he’ll be chomping at the bit to start against the Stormers on Sunday. The Stormers will be determined to get a win for Springbok flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit who will bring up his 50th cap for his side this weekend. 

Recent history favours the Stormers who have won five of their last six Super Rugby matches against the Highlanders in South Africa. That includes their last four on the bounce. 

FAST FACT (Opta Sports)
The Highlanders have won their last three Super Rugby games against the Stormers by an average margin of 26 points per game.

Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (C), 5 Cobus Wiese, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff. Reserves: 16 Chad Solomon (DHL Stormers debut), 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Kobus van Dyk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Dan Kriel.

Highlanders: 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Patelesio Tomkinson, 11 Jordan Hyland, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Luke Whitelock (C), 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown. Reserves: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Thomas Umaga-Jensen