Pretoria News

Engelbrecht, Dixon step up for Connacht challenge


THE Stormers reinforced their forwards with two hard men for their United Rugby Championship (URC) semi-final against Connacht today.

But the absence of injured Springboks Deon Fourie and Marvin Orie will still be felt in a match where they would’ve been vital cogs in the well-oiled machine of the URC defending champions.

The two sides meet in the DHL Stadium at 4pm for a place in the final against one of either Leinster or Munster.

Fourie (hamstring) will be missed at the breakdown and as a leader, while Orie (shoulder) has been outstanding this season in the lineouts and on defence.

Both are known for their play at the breakdown – an area where Connacht fared exceptionally well in their quarter-final against Ulster – and it’s expected that they will target the Stormers there too.

Willie Engelbrecht is in for Fourie, and Ben-jason Dixon replaces Orie. Engelbrecht came on for Fourie after 45 minutes against the Bulls, and put in some hammering tackles. Dixon is another big ball-carrying option, a lineout jumper and he puts his body on the line.

They are the only changes Stormers coach John Dobson made to his starting team that rinsed the Bulls last weekend.

The same backline starts and Dobson will be hoping that flyhalf Manie Libbok and scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies will get the team on the front foot early on in the game.

Not many teams can come to the DHL Stadium and take the defending champions on in a fast-paced match. The team from Galway has evolved their game plan to suit attacking players like wingers John Porch and Mack Hansen and centre Bundee Aki, but with threats all over the Stormers’ backline, they will have to be wary of counter-attacks.

Aki and Tom Farrell will also be a handful in the midfield, so the centre combination of Dan du Plessis and Ruhan Nel will have to be sharp for the home side.

A big battle can be expected between Stormers captain and loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff and Connacht’s Irish international tight head, Finlay Bealham.

To cover fly half and centre, utility back Jean-luc du Plessis, who captained the Western province Currie Cup side against the Griffons yesterday, has been included on the replacement bench.

Sacha Feinberg-mngomezulu is the other utility back on the bench who can step in at fullback, inside centre, or at flyhalf.

“While it is disappointing not to have Deon and Marvin in the team, we have every confidence in the players who have come in, who have all proven their worth for us already this season,” Dobson said with his team announcement.

“We are thrilled to be hosting another semi-final, and with another big crowd coming out, we want to repay the incredible support we enjoy with a fitting performance.

“It will be another great occasion at DHL Stadium and we will be doing everything we can to make our supporters proud.”





African News Agency