Super Rugby 2019: Stormers vs Sharks
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town (SA)
Date: Saturday, 15 June 2019
The recent clashes between the two teams have gone in favour of the Stormers. They have won the last two meetings between the teams but you have to go all the way back to the 2011 and 2012 seasons for the last time that the Pretoria club were able to beat the Sharks three times on the bounce.
Both these clubs can qualify for the playoffs in one of the tightest races for the top eight we have ever seen. The top four places are locked in, but sports five through eight are being contested by a ridiculous nine teams.
The winner here is in, while the loser will be watching the playoffs at home.
The Stormers have been good over their last six games, winning three, losing two, and picking up one draw. The draw, ironically, might be the best result of the bunch as the matched the mighty Crusaders 19-19 at home a month ago. A win last time out against the Sunwolves has put the Stormers in position to make the playoffs with a win on Saturday.
The Sharks, on the other hand, have hit a slippery period at the wrong time. They have lost three of their last four games and have only one win in five if you factor in their own draw with the Crusaders in Auckland back at the beginning of May. A 34-7 thumping on the road at the hands of Los Jaguars last time out is hardly ideal preparation for this clash.
The Stormers will feel confident going into this winner take all clash because their home form this season has been outstanding. They have lost just one of their last eight home ties, winning six with one draw, and they haven’t lost at home in their last four fixtures.
A major issue for the Stormers is that scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies will miss this game with a shoulder injury. Veteran Jano Vermaak will slot into the side, but he doesn’t have the explosive playmaking potential of the 23-year-old Jantjies.
One thing to note is that the Stormers, as good as they are at home, don’t score a lot in the first half. This is a team that looks to play high-level defense, suffocating an opponent before turning on their more expansive play in the second half. With that in mind, the Sharks are more attractive in the race to 10 points market at 1.05 on BetXChange.
If the Sharks are going to flip the script and beat the Stormers at Newlands then it will be through their clever offload game. When the Stormers beat the Sharks in Round 3, it was because the Sharks fell into a match that suited the Stormers style of play. The result was they were physically overmatched at the breakdown as the Stormers muscled their way to a big win.
The difference here is that the Stormers pack is depleted. Without the likes of Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, and Eben Etzebeth, the pack just isn’t as dominant. The Sharks have become more of a ball in hand team as the season has progressed, relying on the ability of their players to offload in tight spaces to create line breaks.
With the Sharks reeling with injuries an upset could certainly be on the cards.
When both sides are fully fit, and when the Stormers are playing at home, this would be an almost certain Stormers win. The problem is that the rate of attrition in their pack, and now also at the No. 9 position, has certainly left the Stormers vulnerable to losing and missing the playoffs.