Round 15 of the Super Rugby Season sees the Western Stormers play host to the Melbourne Rebels at Newlands Stadium. The Stormers will look to strengthen their chance at a finals berth, whilst the Rebels will look to score their first win in the Republic.
The Stormers come into the match in good form and well-rested after the bye last round. Despite the loss against the Cheetahs, the Stormers withstood a late charge before overcoming the Brumbies by a point. Allister Coetzee is not taking this match lightly, indicating they will play both Burger and Vermeulen in the run-on side. Previous encounters might have seen these two players rested, but the Rebels now present a much harder challenge to the Stormers. In the backline Demitri Catrakilis will punish the Rebels if they infringe within kicking distance; 20 points against the Brumbies only proves this.
The Rebels have made three changes to the starting fifteen. Toby Smith (Back), Tamati Ellison (Groin) and Sefanaia Naivalu (concussion) have all been ruled out. Taking their place will Cruz Ah-Nau, Tom English and Cam Crawford in his debut Rebels match. Scott Fuglistaller returns to the starting line-up and relegates Jordy Reid to the bench. The Japanese international Prop Keita Inagaki is in line to make his Super Rugby debut after being named on the bench.
After looking flat in the loss to the Reds, Tony McGahan would have focused mental intensity and execution in training this week. Getting this aspect right should lead to better execution, increased pressure and a more competitive game.
Eben Etzebeth vs. Luke Jones
There’s a lot to like about two physical beasts facing off against each other. Eben and Luke are very similar Rugby players; physical, abrasive and possess wonderful skills. Both men are fans of the on-up run and they will look to slam into the opposition like a Mack truck. Luke arguably has a slightly better defensive game and this will be called upon to tame the powerful Stormers pack.
Eben brings a wealth of Springbok experience and will use this to his advantage. Expect the physicality between the two, but also watch out for the niggle.
Demitri Catrakilis vs. Jack Debreczeni
Demitri and Jack have both been in fine kicking form, punishing any indiscretion within 50 metres of the goal line. In his second season full season Jack is developing into a strong playmaker, but is not immune to the odd brain fart and will look to be on his best behavior. Demitri brings solid playmaker experience from the Southern Kings has scored the majority of Stormers points this season. Rebels fans might remember Demitri from his days with the Southern Kings – I still haven’t forgotten this drop goal.
There was no Stormers v Rebels contest last year but the Rebs won in Melbourne in 2013. Whilst I always hold faint hope for an improbable finals berth, I think the Rebels bubble will be burst this weekend. The Stormers are well rested and in good form, whilst the Rebels are injured and coming off an unexpected defeat. The Stormers attack will look to dominate a weakened Rebels outfit, using everything from rolling mauls to their outside speedsters.
Tony McGahan has identified the battle in to forwards, but this is precisely where the Stormers will dominate. The Rebels will put in a good show and give the Stormers a scare, but it won’t be enough. The Stormers will be too strong for the Rebels on match day.
Stormers by 10.
Stormers v Rebels
|Damian de Allende
|Juan de Jongh
|Newlands, Cape Town
|Sun 24 May 3:10
|Assistant Ref 1:
|Assistant Ref 2:
|Deon van Blommestein