Preview: Stormers v Crusaders

Getty Images

Thursday, March 28, 2013    Getty Images

LAST TIME: Stormers 24 lost to Crusaders 31, Round 7, 2012 at AMI Stadium

Hooker Tiaan Liebenberg is out due to injury and replaced by Deon Fourie while suspension for prop Steven Kitshoff has seen Pat Cilliers come back into the side. There's still no sign of skipper and flanker Schalk Burger while first five-eighths Peter Grant is expected to be out of action for six weeks, at least. Concerns that Gio Aplon may have suffered concussion have been ruled out and he was available for selection.

No.8 and captain Kieran Read is the notable absentee for the Crusaders as the result of a toe injury suffered against the Southern Kings last week. Dan Carter is on paternity leave.

Considering it was in the last round of 2011 that the Stormers collected a four-try bonus point it is tempting to say that are at the top of their form. Certainly managing a win over the Brumbies, and a bonus point as well, is a fine achievement and one that will have set them up well in their preparations for the Crusaders.

By comparison, the Crusaders have taken time to hit their straps, not for the first time, and while they looked to be picking up their momentum against the Kings, the loss of Read and Carter cannot help but be a setback for them. Their experience alone makes them key absentees when heading into the Newlands firestorm. However, the need to lift themselves under duress has been one of the endearing characteristics of the Crusaders' legacy and they will need all of that to claim a win in this contest.

Knowing that they have a rare chance to catch the Crusaders when down on their key strengths, the Stormers will be looking to reduce the losing percentage in contests between the two. Their win over the outstanding Brumbies combination last week will have been a big lift and the Crusaders would make another handy scalp for the belt. The Crusaders can be expected to battle all the way but, again, the home town advantage may be just enough for the win.
Stormers by 5.