Stormers - a different beast at home
EXCLUSIVE: Despite a horrendous Australasian tour, where they picked up just one point - a losing bonus point - from their three matches, the Stormers now return home as potential favourites against the Blues.
The Cape Town-based franchise took a relatively inexperienced squad on the tour that saw them lose 27-34 to the Waratahs, 28-45 to the Crusaders and 15-33 to the Highlanders in three consecutive weeks.
The Blues, on the other hand, are coming off the back of an incredible second half performance that saw them come from behind to edge the Lions 38-35 in Johannesburg in Round Four of the competition.
The New Zealand side clearly has the momentum and confidence ahead of the encounter, however, Anton van Zyl still feels the Stormers will take the victory.
"The Blues are deservedly getting a lot of people to stand up and take notice of them, so the Stormers are going to have a hell of a test. The Blues are going to get enormous confidence from the Lions victory and the other difference [in that match] was that the Blues set-piece was statistically almost impeccable and their running metres was almost 500 metres to about 360-odd.
"I'm expecting the game to be close but I think the Stormers will win. They will be a lot wiser than the Lions were and I still don't see that all-round, polished New Zealand look to the Blues when you see the Crusaders and Hurricanes play - the ability to adapt to different game situations," Van Zyl said.
Howie Kahn, though, believes that the Blues' support base in Cape Town will have some sort of influence.
"Jonathan Kaplan said that the Blues are his favourite New Zealand team and even though they have lost a lot of games but it's only been by seven or eight points and he believes that's a sign of a good team.
"It was a masterstroke to play Rieko at 13, he gets his hands on the ball a lot more and Sonny Bill came into the [Lions] game nicely but don't forget that they will come to Cape Town and have support because historically, they have great support here," Kahn said.
Former Stormers centre Morgan Newman has taken the middle ground, calling a potential draw on the cards.
"It's a difficult one for me [to predict] because the Blues come here [to Cape Town] with their tails in the air but when the Stormers come home, they are never an easy side to play against.
"So my head says from the momentum they have built up, that they [Blues] will probably sneak a win but my heart says the Stormers will turn it around. Can I go with a draw?" Newman stated.
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