Vodacom Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe expects one “helluva” battle when the Sharks come to Newlands this weekend for the final Vodacom Super 14 round robin match of the season.
The Sharks want to secure a home semi-final with a good victory and the Stormers want to ensure a strong finish to the season after a disappointing start.
They have won two consecutive games for the first time this season when they trounced the Reds at Newlands the past Saturday and now Van der Merwe and his troops are looking to bow out with a bang.
The coach said the win over the Reds was very important in terms of consistency – the one big problem for the Cape franchise this season.
“It was important that we perform well two weeks in a row. We have been battling all season long with consistency and it was the first time that we’ve won two in a row.
“The guys played good rugby, although things became a bit loose at times. But that happens when you want to play an expansive game of rugby. It is a pity we conceded that last try, because we could have jumped another place or two on the log.”
Van der Merwe is under no illusions about the immense task awaiting his charges on Saturday. “It is going to be one helluva game,” he declared.
“The Sharks are coming here with the knowledge that they have to win to clinch a home semi-final. It is a local derby and there will be unbelievable intensity in the game.”
The Vodacom Stormers team will be announced on Thursday, but Van der Merwe said Jean de Villiers and Justin Melck would not be considered as both are nursing injuries.
Corné Uys will take over from Springbok midfielder De Villiers in the only change to the starting XV. The promising Dylan des Fountain will slot in on the substitutes’ bench.
De Villiers tore ligaments in his wrist. No 8 Melck also missed last weekend’s victory over the Reds with sternum ligament trouble, which means the bench will be unchanged.
“Dylan will be getting game time, but we decided to opt for Corné as he has played more rugby lately than Dylan, who was injured and is not as match sharp as Corné.
“Corné played well in the Currie Cup at centre and we have a lot of confidence in him.”