Newlands battle not for faint-hearted

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But the midfield battle in the Super Rugby match between the Stormers and Waratahs is certainly going to raise the temperature a notch at Newlands.

In the light-blue corner there will be the creativity of Kurtley Beale and the power of Israel Folau, while in the royal-blue corner there will most likely be the brute force of Damian de Allende and the movement of Juan de Jongh.

It’s not going to be a battle for the faint of heart.Waratahs coach Darryl Gibson has moved Folau to outside centre this year to try to make use of his line-breaking ability from first-phase ball.

And, with the playmaking abilities of Beale on his inside, he has put in a couple of brilliant performances in that position so far this season.Folau scored his second try in as many matches at No 13 last weekend against the Force, and in the process he broke Lote Tuqiri’s all-time try-scoring record for the Waratahs.

His 30 tries, though, have come in 52 Super Rugby games, 28 matches fewer than former Wallaby wing Tuqiri.Beale is a wonderful footballer, with great hands, a deceptive step. He is a player who can accelerate through a gap with ease and poise. He is also a guy who pops in at first receiver and fullback in matches, and is really hard to keep out of the game.

With new Waratahs fullback Andrew Kellaway playing some good rugby, it seems like Gibson is going to persist with Beale and Folau at centre.”At the moment I’m keen to run this combination out, give it some time,” Gibson said.

”I certainly think with Folau given more time at 13, he’ll grow into that position and he’s very determined to make sure that he’s going to be a success there.”The Newlands faithful haven’t quite seen the best of De Allende this year – he only recently returned from a serious ankle injury.

He looked very rusty against the Reds in his first start of the campaign last Saturday after making two cameo appearances off the bench in his previous two matches.

Last week he dropped the ball on a few occasions, had a kick charged down that led to a try for the Reds, and missed a crucial tackle that also resulted in a try.

But a duel against two of the best midfielders in the competition could be just the spark he needs to get his season going, while he also won’t have the burden of captaincy on his shoulders on Saturday night (kickoff 7.15pm).

His good mate and golf partner, De Jongh, is set to resume his leadership role after missing the Reds game with a “delayed concussion”.It’s going to be De Jongh’s first start in the No 13 jersey this season, and an outstanding performance will go a long way towards impressing new Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.

Folau’s hard running in midfield won’t faze De Jongh, who is an excellent defender in the No 13 channel. But the Stormers’ co-captain’s move to outside centre will also bring more ball-playing skills to the Stormers in the wide channels.

Gibson is certainly aware of the threat that De Allende and De Jongh pose, especially in a Stormers team playing with a lot more freedom and creativity this season.

”Last season (De Allende) was one of the best performers in the competition, certainly a player that we talk about being a real threat. With De Jongh in the middle, that could be a deadly combination,” Gibson said.

”I like the way they play. Robbie (Fleck) has brought a real energy and youthfulness to the Stormers.”I like how they are positive with the ball, and try to keep the ball alive.

Combined with traditional Stormers defence, they have been very good. They are a very strong team, justifiably top of the South African conference. “They have a really good, balanced team.”

Cape Argus

Original source: Newlands battle not for faint-hearted

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