Home Sport Rugby Etzebeth boost for Stormers’ Auckland ‘test’

Etzebeth boost for Stormers’ Auckland ‘test’

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“The Stormers are going to bring a very different challenge than the Highlanders and we must be better if we are to get a positive result.”

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The feature match in South Africa tomorrow is the Super Rugby derby in Durban between the Sharks and the Bulls, and it is also the only local encounter on offer in this weekends’ seventh-round action.

The Stormers take on the Blues in Auckland earlier in the day in what will be their second match of their Australasian tour, with the Cape side aiming for a morale-boosting win in New Zealand.

Siya Kolisi and his Stormers teammates kick off their encounter at 8.35am (SA time) while the big clash in Durban starts at 3.05pm, with both matches televised live on SuperSport1.

The Lions have a break this weekend and the Jaguares, the other team in the South African Conference, host the Chiefs in a late-evening kick-off in Buenos Aires (11.40pm SA time).

The Stormers will be hoping for another huge defensive effort from the in-form Pieter-Steph du Toit, their Springbok flanker who made 30 tackles in Wellington last week. That tackling performance equalled the tackle count of any player in a single round in the last nine seasons and the towering No 7 has made a combined total of 83 tackles so far this year.

Blues coach Leon MacDonald said his side must prepare for a different challenge against the South African visitors.

“The Stormers are going to bring a very different challenge than the Highlanders and we must be better if we are to get a positive result.”

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said his team is determined to be as clinical as possible in Auckland.

“We have got great energy among the group and the players are all keen to get out there and show what we are capable of, so we are looking forward to it. It will be important for us to be composed and focused as we look to keep improving and building our game.”

Meanwhile, Sharks coach Robert du Preez has made just two changes to the starting line-up for this week’s home derby against the Bulls.

Luke Stringer replaces Phepsi Buthelezi at flank and Lwazi Mvovo rotates on the wing with Sbu Nkosi. Stalwart prop Beast Mtawarira stands on the cusp of making history as the popular front ranker is set to equal Adriaan Strauss’ record of 156 competition appearances.

Strauss played for the Toyota Cheetahs and the Bulls, but Mtawarira has accomplished his feat with just one team, the Cell C Sharks, since making his debut in 2007.

The Pretoria side, for their part, are coming off the back of a very disappointing 56-20 home loss to the Chiefs and they will be determined to return to winning ways against their South African rivals, especially after beating them ea.

While both teams have won three and lost two so far, it was the Bulls who clinched a comfortable 37-14 triumph when the two sides met at earlier this month in Pretoria.

But the coastal outfit is a hard nut to crack at home and boasts with seven wins from their last eight games on home turf, losing only to the Stormers in that period.

And to add spice to the derby, the Pretoria visitors have won their last three local derbies in a row.

Sharks flanker Jacques Vermeulen admits the crunch derby at the Shark tank is going to require great patience if they want to replicate last week’s success over the Rebels.

“The Bulls will come to Durban looking to resurrect their campaign after last week (defeat to the Chiefs), but we pride ourselves on our efforts to win every home game.

“This is a big game for us. Every team wants to make their home ground a fortress; it’s important for us to win this weekend.”

Bulls coach Pote Human has challenged his side to show real hunger in Durban.

“They know what we can bring and we know what to expect too. They have a number of Springboks in their pack and it’s going to be a battle.

“I’m really excited about this game and the players are all excited to go and show what they can do. We all know that we are better than what we produced last week.”

African News Agency (ANA)