Luke Watson and his Vodacom Stormers’ “mission impossible” starts on Saturday at Newlands when they take on the Lions in a Vodacom Super 14 match.
This is the first match in the final stretch of the competition after their return from the away leg of the competition.
Coach Kobus van der Merwe on Wednesday said his team still harbours hopes of a semi-final berth. For them to achieve what seems like an impossible goal, they need to win all their remaining games and score a few bonus points as well as hope for favourable results in games not involving them.
And the Lions will not make it easy for Van der Merwe and his charges. They have undergone a transformation under the coaching of Loffie Eloff and are no more the pushovers of previous seasons.
Van der Merwe realises that. “They play absolutely exciting rugby. They play with enthusiasm and passion. They are a young group with two experienced Springboks in André Prertorius and Jaque Fourie, who both are playing great rugby at the moment and that makes a huge difference.
“It is going to be a hard game. Our last two games against them were real cliffhangers in which the result could have gone either way in the last few minutes.
“They play a very similar brand of rugby than us and they are exciting and not scared to run with the ball. I think we will see a very good game on Saturday.”
Looking at what his team should do to win this game and keep the flame alive, Van der Merwe said: “I think we should limit our mistakes. In our last game – against the Crusaders – we made a lot of errors that were very costly in the end.
“With Conrad (Jantjes) back and Brent (Russell) coming off the bench we have more experience and depth. The big thing is to play positively and not to be tentative.
“We are going to need a big team effort, but I am confidence that the boys can do it.”
Vodacom Stormers: 15. Conrad Jantjes, 14. Breyton Paulse, 13. Jean de Villiers, 12. De Wet Barry, 11. Corne Uys, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Bolla Conradie, 8. Justin Melck, 7. Schalk Burger Jnr, 6. Luke Watson (Captain), 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Gerrie Britz, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Schalk Brits, 1. JD Moller
Replacements: 16. Tiaan Liebenberg, 17. Schalk Ferreira, 18. Ross Skeate, 19. Joe van Niekerk, 20. JP Joubert, 21. Naas Olivier, 22. Brent Russell.