Preview: Stormers v Waratahs

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The Stormers will be eager to continue their form when they face the Waratahs in round ten of Super Rugby action at Newlands on Saturday.

Robbie Fleck’s men are at the top of the South African Group and are riding high after a dominating win against the Reds last week.

Key to their success has been staunch defence that has conceded the fewest tries this season, along with the Sharks. This, combined with accurate tactical kicking from the likes of new find Jean-Luc du Plessis and full-back Cheslin Kolbe, have made the Stormers a tough nut to crack.

Meanwhile, the Waratahs have failed to live up to the hype of last year, when they made the semi-finals and are wallowing in the bottom half of the overall table.

The Achilles heel of the Sydney-based has undoubtedly been their defence, as they have conceded the most penalties in the competition – 75 – and been handed no less than seven yellow cards.

Another issue for the Waratahs has been goal-kicking. In star fly-half Bernard Foley’s absence, Kurtley Beale took over the duties for the opening rounds but was poor. While Foley returned in round five, he has been similarly inaccurate and the two have combined for a less-than ideal 68 percent off the tee.

Other than these issues, Daryl Gibson’s charges have shown plenty of intent with the ball and are ranked fourth in the competition for clean breaks, metres made and passes.

The last time the teams met: The Stormers arrived in Sydney off the back of three losses in 2015. However, the 32-18 win appeared to galvanise the squad, as it was the start of a run which saw them win five out of their next six games on their way to the play-offs. Centre Damian de Allende contributed with a brace of tries, while pivot Demetri Catrakilis slotted five from six kicks.

Players to watch: The Newlands faithful will no doubt be licking their lips at the prospect of a midfield pairing of Juan de Jongh and Damian de Allende, who start together for the first time this season. De Allende beat four defenders last time out against the Reds, while De Jongh has been a workhorse all season.

The Waratahs' Kurtley Beale has been a thorn in every defence this season, amassing eight clean breaks and 13 offloads, which is very dangerous when he has the likes of fellow Wallaby star Israel Folau on his outside. Flanker Michael Hooper has been a beast on defence, making the fifth most tackles in the competition so far.

Team news: The return of co-captains Juan de Jongh and Frans Malherbe this week is a big boost for the Stormers. De Jongh missed last week's action due to concussion, while Malherbe was ill. The duo replace Johnny Kotze and Vincent Koch, with the former falling out of the matchday 23 altogether. Springbok Schalk Burger will start at number eight, shifting Nizaam Carr to the flank and Siya Kolisi moves to the bench. Staying with the forwards, JC Janse van Rensburg get a run at loosehead.

For the visitors, Gibson has made just one change to his starting line-up that defeated the Force last week. Stalwart lock Dean Mumm replaces the injured Jack Dempsey, who suffered a blow to the shoulder against the Force. Sam Lousi take up a spot on the bench as cover. In other news, there is a momentous occasion for captain Dave Dennis, as he will celebrate his 100th Super Rugby cap when he runs on the field at Newlands.

Form: The Stormers have lost just twice in 2016, once to the Sharks at home in round three and then away to the Lions in round eight. Otherwise, the men from Cape Town have earned a few feathers in the cap this season, with dominant wins over the Bulls and Brumbies before putting 40 points on the Reds last week.

Meanwhile, 2015's semi-finalists the 'Tahs have yet to hit their straps with just three wins from their seven outings. While they haven’t had the easiest of draws, already losing twice to the Brumbies and defending champions the Highlanders, the lowlight of the season has to be the narrow loss at home to the Rebels in round six. Last week, the Waratahs righted the ship somewhat, running in six tries past the Force in a dominating win.

Prediction: While both teams are arriving at Newlands on the back of big wins, the home side has shown they are a more disciplined outfit, so we are picking the Stormers to win by ten.

Previous results:

2015: Stormers won 32-18 in Sydney
2014: Waratahs won 22-11 in Cape Town
2013: Waratahs won 21-15 in Sydney
2012: Stormers won 19-13 in Cape Town
2010: Stormers won 26-6 in Cape Town
2010: Stormers won 27-6 in Cape Town
2009: Waratahs won 21-16 in Sydney

The teams:

Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (cc), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Frans Malherbe (cc), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Huw Jones

Waratahs: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Will Skelton, 4 David Dennis, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Hugh Roach, 1 Paddy Ryan
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Matt Carraro

Date: Saturday, April 30
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 19:15 local (17:15 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Shaun Veldsman