The Vodacom Stormers will face the sternest test to date on their 2008 Vodacom Super 14 tour when they meet the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday (06h30 SA time).
After a disappointing start to the campaign, the Stormers have shown great improvement to win the opening two matches of their tour, against the Reds and the Chiefs, meaning they will be chasing a third straight win on the road when they face the Blues.
The Stormers and the Blues have been involved in some memorable clashes down the years with the New Zealanders having won six of the last 10 encounters between them since 1998. Significantly, the Stormers have won twice in five visits to Eden Park in the same period.
The most memorable away win was in 2004 when a big hit by flanker Hendrik Gerber on Blues flyhalf Carlos Spencer changed the entire flow of the game and saw the Stormers run in eight tries for a famous 51-23 victory.
Winger Tonderai Chavhanga, who will be in action on Saturday, and number eight Adri Badenhorst each got a brace of tries on the day. The 51 points and the 8 tries scored remain Stormers records in the competition.
The Stormers’ previous win in Auckland was in 2000 when they beat the hosts 39-18. The result was revenge for their 74-28 defeat in 1998 in which the Blues ran in 11 tries – the most ever conceded by the Stormers.
On their last visit to Eden Park in 2006, the Stormers were disappointing in losing 15-32 but they made amends in Cape Town last year with a 33-20 win against a Blues side that reached the semi-finals.
The Blues will go into Saturday’s encounter staring a third consecutive loss in the face. After a blistering start they have lost their last two against the Sharks and the Western Force and will be determined to rectify matters.
The Stormers should be prepared for a Blues backlash.
Last 10 meetings in Super Rugby: Blues vs Stormers
Blues have won: 6 Stormers have won: 4
2007 Blues 20 Stormers 33 in Cape Town
2006 Blues 32 Stormers 15 in Auckland
2005 Blues 37 Stormers 24 in Cape Town
2004 Blues 23 Stormers 51 in Auckland
2003 Blues 36 Stormers 8 in Cape Town
2002 Blues 25 Stormers 6 in Auckland
2001 Blues 26 Stormers 12 in Cape Town
2000 Blues 18 Stormers 39 in Auckland
1999 Blues 23 Stormers 37 in Cape Town
1998 Blues 74 Stormers 28 in Auckland