It was a ding-dong battle between the two front rows, as the both teams got their fair share of penalties in that heated affair at Ellis Park in February.
The Stormers went on to beat the Lions by three points to record their second win in a row, while the home side were left to lick their wounds after a third successive defeat.
Fast-forward to tomorrow afternoon’s clash between the two sides at Newlands, and there will be a lot more at stake than in the early season match. But the scrum could again be a decisive factor.
The scrum has been a source of many penalties and points for the Stormers. While they hadn’t managed to really take advantage of this set-piece in an attacking sense earlier this season, they are now starting to get the hang of it. Over the last two weeks the Cape side have scored two tries from attacking scrums. Against the Rebels, captain Duane Vermeulen picked up at the base in a move that led to Dillyn Leyds’ try, while Seabelo Senatla popped up at first receiver against the Cheetahs before barging his way over the tryline.
Last week the Stormers just bulldozed the Cheetahs on their way to only their second bonus-point win of the season. But this week, the Lions aren’t going to be as easy to steamroll, especially because they have a lot to play for. The Lions can still win the South African Conference if they manage to beat the Cape side tomorrow, and the Stormers completely fall apart against the Sharks next week in Durban.
The Lions dominated the Waratahs at scrum time last week, and Stormers coach Allister Coetzee is aware of the danger they pose in the set-pieces.
“It’s always going to be a big set-piece battle against the Lions, that’s why they are second in the conference,” Coetzee said yesterday. “They have a good scrum and a good line-out, and they are also a good mauling side. They are well coached.
“We have got to play well and we have to be clinical like we were last week. We have really been disciplined, I think we are up there as one of the best teams in teams in that department. And that is crucial in a tight game.”
The Stormers aren’t taking any chances at scrum time either, as they have bolstered their pack with Frans Malherbe back in the starting line-up after missing out last week because of flu.
Not that Vincent Koch has been bad; in fact he has shone bright in his rookie season at this level, but Coetzee thinks that he will be a greater asset coming off the bench, as he brings more mobility.
Stormers: Cheslin Kolbe, Dillyn Leyds, Juan de Jongh, Damian de Allende, Seabelo Senatla, Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom, Duane Vermeulen (capt), Siya Kolisi, Schalk Burger, Manuel Carizza, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: Michael Willemse, Oli Kebble, Vincent Koch, Jean Kleyn, Nizaam Carr, Louis Schreuder, Kurt Coleman, Jaco Taute. - The Star
Original source: Stormers wary of Lions scrum