thestormers.co.za and sharksrugby.co.za 26.Jul.2012Getty Images
Patrick Lambie was also in a race against time to recover from a recurring ankle injury, but will not be playing, and with Jordaan’s troublesome hamstring injury keeping him out of the match, Tim Whitehead will play in his position at outside centre, with Meyer Bosman coming in to partner him in the midfield.
Cobus Reinach misses out as Sharks coach John Plumtree has chosen a five-two split on the bench, with Jean Deysel returning to the side to add extra firepower amongst the replacements. The final change sees Riaan Viljoen named in Bosman’s empty place.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee included in the front row Brok Harris to start at tighthead, with Frans Malherbe dropping to the bench in jersey 16.
Eben Etzebeth returns from injury and will wear jersey 4, with De Kock Steenkamp playing off the bench and Quinn Roux falling out of the match 22.
Deon Fourie gets another start at 8, with Duane Vermeulen considered not yet ready. Don Armand provides cover from the bench in jersey 19, with Canadian international, Jebb Sinclair, not eligible to play.
The Sharks are expecting nothing different from the Stormers that they have delivered all season, a side that have reached the top of the log through disciplined defensive play and the highly-reliable boot of Peter Grant to convert opportunities when they present themselves. Although they boast a hugely exciting backline, the Stormers have interestingly scored the fewest number of tries in the tournament, but have done the necessary damage to win almost all of their games by sheer dominance.
“They don’t change too much in what they do, but what they do is really efficient,” explains John Plumtree. “They work really hard defensively, their defence has been talked about enough, it’s a wall that’s hard to break down. Their lineout is really big, they have an unfair advantage with some monsters there, their setpiece is something they rely on, they gain a lot of confidence out of winning a territory game, they don’t mind kicking out because they attack the opposition lineout.
“There are trends about them that are really consistent. They have a real belief in what they do, their leadership is clearly very strong because they get out there and play consistent rugby each week, that’s why they finished top, that’s why they’re in a situation where, if they beat us, they get a home final.
“They also feed off the fact that they have a lot of good players but don’t have as many Boks as some of the other teams. That motivates them as well.”
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Deon Fourie, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Frans Malherbe, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Don Armand, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Odwa Ndungane, 22 Riaan Viljoen.