MARK KEOHANE writes Stormers fans must prepare for more Super Rugby misery in Durban.
The Sharks will beat the Stormers in Durban. It won’t be an easy victory but when these two teams play one point is emphatic enough in the chase to being the best South African team in the competition.
The Sharks were magnificent in beating the Stormers in Cape Town in the 2012 semi-final season and in turn the Stormers, in the guise of Western Province in the Currie Cup final, were as magnificent in winning the title in Durban.
The Sharks were surprisingly edgy and tentative in the final quarter in Bloemfontein to hang on against the Cheetahs, but then the Cheetahs did beat the Stormers in Bloemfontein in a pre-season match.
I know Elton Jantjies will be better but the Stormers are missing the colossal presence of lock Eben Etzebeth more even than the Sharks are missing the influence of Bok hooker Bismark du Plessis.
The Sharks pack is good enough to get an edge, especially in the collisions, but it’s the Sharks back division that will trouble the Stormers more than the Bulls did.
Pat Lambie asks more attacking questions at flyhalf and Frans Steyn has a physicality at No 12 that wasn’t there in the Bulls line-up.
The back three of the Sharks, as a unit, also shades the visitors.
It is going to be difficult for the Stormers and while away defeats aren’t a train smash in the tournament, it does add to the pressure of a ‘must win’ situation when playing at home.
The Bulls will win easily against the Force and get the bonus point and the Cheetahs will be competitive against the Chiefs and may just get a bonus point for tries scored if the game opens up as expected. The Chiefs will win and get five league points.
The Kings will enjoy their second great weekend in the competition because of the bye. Thereafter it will become decidedly tougher and demanding for a squad blessed with passion and desire but very limited on pedigree at this level.
For those who like to forget when I do get it right, 3/3 last week in relation to the SA teams. That’s right I couldn’t find too many on Twitter and the inbox was predictably empty with the clever guys who offered such articulate abuse at me picking the Bulls and Kings to win.
I expect another slow post match response when the Sharks do the business in Durban.