Force flyhalf Matt Giteau’s brilliance looms as a large obstacle in the way of the Vodacom Stormers getting back to their winning ways when the two teams meet at Newlands on Saturday evening in a Vodacom Super 14 match.
Coach Rassie Erasmus this week acknowledged the Wallaby flyhalf needs to be contained if the Stormers want to stand a realistic chance of getting what would be only their fourth victory of the season. The home side is in 11th place on the log, while the Force still has an outside chance of reaching the play-offs.
The coach emphasized this week that it would be vital for his team to starve the opposition of possession. “If you want to suffocate them from possession it has to start at the set-piece,” said Erasmus. “Their line-outs will be good with a guy like Nathan Sharpe and we’ll have to have a great plan at contesting there.
“I think we can also have a go at them at scrum-time having Tiaan [Liebenberg] and a guy like Brok (Harris) back in the mix, as well as a full front row on the bench.
“But the plan would be to not give them too much ball.” He lauded Giteau’s role in the Force’s game plan. “The thing they do right is that Giteau knows when to run and he doesn’t create in his half. You’re never sure if he’s going to chip, have a cross-kick or take the guys on himself,” explained the coach.
“He is the major guy that decides how the show is run, so that’s a threat that we’ll have to handle.” The battle at the breakdown is also set to be very important. Captain Luke Watson said they would have to keep a keen eye on Force flank David Pocock.
“David’s been brilliant in the last two seasons and he really gives the Force a strength at the breakdown,” he said. “That’s definitely a threat and it is something we have discussed as a team and we will have to keep a close eye on him and neutralize him at breakdown-time. But I’m pretty confident that our loose-forwards can be just as effective.”
Teams for Newlands:
Vodacom Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gcobani Bobo, 13 Dylan des Fountain, 12 Peter Grant, 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Dewaldt Duvenhage, 8 Luke Watson (c), 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Pieter Louw, 5 AJ Venter, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller. Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Brian Mujati 19 Martin Muller, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Morgan Newman, 22 Tonderai Chavhanga.
Western Force: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Scott Staniforth, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 James O’Connor, 11 Cameron Shepherd, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Josh Valentine, 8 Tamaiti Horua, 7 David Pocock, 6 Matt Hodgson, 5 Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Ben Castle, 2 Tai McIsaac, 1 Pek Cowan. Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 AJ Whalley, 18 Tom Hockings, 19 Richard Stanford, 20 Chris O’Young, 21 Josh Tatupu, 22 Haig Sare. Referee: Marius Jonker Kick-off: 19:10