The Stormers have a second very hard match to open their season – again on the road – and it’s one they will feel they simply must win. LIVE - SKY Sport 1 from 6am
Sharks v Stormers at Durban - LIVE SKY Sport 6am
2011: Stormers 16-6 at Durban
Stormers 32-12 at Cape Town
2012: Stormers 15-12 at Cape Town
Sharks 25-20 at Durban
Sharks 26-19 at Cape Town (semi-final)
Matches: 19. Stormers 9 wins, Natal/Sharks 10.
Highest score: Stormers 40 at Cape Town 2003, Sharks 32 at Durban 1998.
Biggest winning margin: Stormers 22 at Cape Town 2003, Sharks 21 at Cape Town 2007.
The Stormers have a second very hard match to open their season – again on the road – and it’s one they will feel they simply must win.
The Sharks had their number towards the end of last season though, and are more likely to create something in a close match which might just be the winning of this one. It won’t be high-scoring and it’s unlikely to be pretty but I like the Sharks by a few points, especially if the Stormers kicking takes 40 minutes to zero in on the posts again.
This matchup is often littered with yellow cards, penalties and bad feeling.
Despite that and the reasonably close scorelines, one team is generally clearly superior and try-scoring points were not rare for the winners until recently. Three weeks from the end of 2004 this match may have been marked down as just another step on the Sharks’ triumphal march but the implosion of Kevin Putt’s troops meant the Stormers went into the match with a better chance of qualifying for the semis.
This they achieved in front of a full house at Durban, with a brilliant effort from Schalk Burger leading the way as the Cape Town side did make the playoffs while the Sharks missed out. Results are evenly split and the teams seem to take turns in putting together small winning sequences; the Sharks won five in a row before losing at Durban in 2011, while the Stormers had won the four before that. Both ends of this fixture were completed by round 11 in 2011, with the Stormers taking both, but eventually these were the two South African teams that made the six.
The first 2012 meeting was ugly – really ugly – and produced only the ninth tryless match in Super rugby. The round 14 match featured much better rugby, with the Sharks getting out to a big lead before the Stormers came part-way back - aided by a poor call on a forward pass - but they still suffered their second and last defeat of the round-robin.
When they met in the semi, becoming the first pair of teams to play three times in the one season, the Sharks claimed a highly meritorious win. Having been forced to travel to Brisbane for their first-round playoff match, many felt the travel would get the Sharks but they were the better side for much of the match and certainly deserved the victory.
Their prize: back on the plane and off to Hamilton for the final, when their legs finally gave way with about 20 minutes to go.