John Goliath takes a closer look at these two protagonists ahead of the match.
The Stormers captain can easily light his team’s fire with either a bone-crunching tackle or a barnstorming run through the middle. Vermeulen loves the physical exchanges more than a Karoo lamb chop, and is at his very best in the heat of battle. Vermeulen is a fierce competitor at the breakdown, and doesn’t easily get rucked out of the way.
It’s not really his sort of game, is it? Despite being built like a Superman, Spies seems to disappear like a cloud in the Kalahari when the going gets tough. Over the years he has been criticised for not having the same influence on matches in tight battles.
When the Stormers captain builds up a head of steam, he is as difficult to stop as a runaway freight train. Vermeulen is very agile for a man of his size, but it’s his tremendous power that gets him over the gainline. He doesn’t loose the ball in contact and most times you have to call in an army to get him down on the ground.
The Bulls No8 can be devastating with ball in hand, especially if he has some space to run into. Being a former track athlete and a winger, Spies has a good turn of pace and is really quick off the mark. He sometimes runs a bit laterally, but when he spots a gap he can easily step off either foot and put the hammer down. His bursts off the scrum are going to be key for Bulls to get on the front foot.
The Stormers captain is a great option at the back of the line-out, especially if they want to maul it up because it’s not easy to sack him. With Michael Rhodes out injured, the Stormers are likely to use him a lot during the next few weeks.
He is very athletic and can out-jump most loose forwards at the back of the line-out. He also contests well because his gets off the ground quickly and his supporters don’t have a lot of trouble getting him high in the air.
While Vermeulen might be well over six foot and tips the scales at 116kg – his beard weighs 6kg alone – the current Bok No8 has great hands and gets his buckets through the tackle to offload. He also runs great lines, and scored a try against the Bulls earlier in the competition by running onto a Damian de Allende pass. He is also hard to stop close to the tryline.
Spies can change a game in a blink of an eye with his ability to slice open defenders with a great run. He has lost a bit of spark and confidence after all his injury problems over the years, but at his best he can be a dangerous customer.
He leads by example on the field. However, his decision-making has let him down on a few occasions this season. As a player, Vermeulen has a nice feel for the game, but as a captain he sometimes doesn’t realise the momentum side of the game.
Spies has matured as a leader and has done well since taking over the captaincy from Victor Matfield. But he is a bit conservative as a captain and also lacks a bit of killer instinct.
Original source: Duane vs Spies - clash of the titans