The Vodacom Stormers want to finish their Vodacom Super 14 campaign with a bang when they take on the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday.
After the Crusaders’ shock defeat to the Chiefs on Friday the Sharks will be highly motivated to beat the Stormers and clinch a home semi-final and a possible home final for finishing top of the log.
The Stormers, however, will go flat-out to spoil the Sharks’ party. There will be no favours and no sentiment involved in Saturday’s clash, was the message from coach Kobus van der Merwe.
“We want to finish well at home. We are expecting an unbelievable crowd and the guys want to give our supporters something to cheer about.
“It was a long season and we started out poorly. It was tough, but we have a last chance to redeem ourselves. The Sharks are the only team who have not lost against a South African team this year and they are the in-form team.
“For us it is important to finish well. We are not going into this game with the idea of assisting them to a home semi-final. We want to win to conclude the season on a high note.”
Van der Merwe said the pack and inside centre De Wet Barry have massive roles to play for the Stormers on Saturday. “Yes, the tight five will be tested on Saturday.
“The Sharks use the drive and rolling maul a lot and that is a factor we need to consider. They also have quality players who can finish at the back, such as JP Pietersen, Percy Montgomery and those young centres. Frans Steyn is an amazing player.
“We cannot afford to give them turnover ball. They are dangerous once they start putting the ball through the phases. It all starts with the tight five and how we can measure up against them there.”
Barry played excellent rugby for the Stormers after starting the season on the bench. And his coach expects a big contribution from him.
“I must say, De Wet is currently playing some of the best rugby he has played in a long while. He is sharp and his ball distribution has improved immensely. He gives a lot of direction with his experience.
“His tackling has always been one of his strong points, but he tackles again as if he was much younger. He is playing great rugby and we will depend on him a lot on Saturday.”
Barry’s battle with Sharks midfield stars Waylon Murry and Brad Barritt could be one of the highlights of the match.
Van der Merwe admits his team will going into the game as the underdogs, but believes the stage is set for them to exit the scene with a really good performance.
Teams for Newlands:
Vodacom Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Corné Uys, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Brent Russell, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Joe van Niekerk, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Gerrie Britz, 4 Ross Skeate, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Eddie Andrews, 19 Francois van der Merwe, 20 JP Joubert, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Dylan Des Fountain.
Sharks: 1 Deon Carstens, 2 John Smit (capt), 3 BJ Botha, 4 Johan Ackermann, 5 Johann Muller, 6 Jacques Botes, 7 Warren Britz/AJ Venter, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 10 Butch James, 11 JP Pietersen, 12 Bradley Barritt, 13 Waylon Murray, 14 Francois Steyn, 15 Percy Montgomery.
Reserves: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Albert van den Berg, 19 Keegan Daniel/Warren Britz, 20 Bob Skinstad, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Adrian Jabobs.
Referee: Mark Lawrence