The Stormers and Jaguares have both had relatively successful starts to the season, with the Stormers 3/3 and the Jaguares 2/3. Both have also had the privilege of not leaving their country for any of the clashes. Saturday’s match in Cape Town will act as a good form guide and contextualise the two sides comparatively writes Oliver Keohane.
Out of their three matches, the Stormers and Jaguares have faced two common opponents; The Hurricanes and the Lions. The former were hammered by the Stormers in the opening round but then travelled to Argentina to claim a last grasp win over the Jaguares. Conversely, the Jaguares hammered the Lions in Buenos Aires in their opening match but the Stormers could only manage an overtime win in Johannesburg against them.
With these games as a guide, it’s hard to actually conclude much about how the two sides will fare against each other. While the Jaguares seem the side more capable of scoring points, the Stormers’ defensive record thus far is more impressive. Interestingly though, after three rounds, the points differences for the sides stands level at 43. The Stormers’ home ground advantage and the two sides’ respective strengths could see a bit of a cancelling act take place.
With the Stormers’ injury report outlining Siya Kolisi and Bongi Mbonambi as the only serious injuries still, they should be bolstered by the return of star scrum-half Herschel Jantjies and freak flanker Jaco Coetzee. Reflecting on the quality performance of young loose forward Juarno Augustus, who will most likely shift to the bench, the Stormers will boast a bit more depth and X-Factor. Ultimately, Saturday’s clash will most probably be centred in the forwards and around the set piece, and the probable closed nature of the game will be a good guide as to just how good the Stormers defence is against a strong Argentinian attack, and just how capable the Jaguares are with ball in hand against a strong Cape Townian defence.
Saturday provides an early opportunity for the two sides to lay down a marker for conference winners, with the Stormers sitting first at 13 points and the Jaguares not far behind at second with 10 points. It also provides the public with some nice perspective on the quality of the sides and their tournament prospects.