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Preview: Blues v Stormers

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Thursday, May 2, 2013     Getty Images

LAST TIME: Blues 17 lost to Stormers 27, Round 4, 2012 at Newlands

WALKING WOUNDED: The Stormers are set to welcome lock Eben Etzebeth for his first game of the season after his recovery from an ankle injury. Also returning, and off the bench like Etzebeth, will be five-eighths Elton Jantjies who suffered a knee injury which kept him out for two weeks. Siya Kolisi, who withdrew from the side before the Hurricanes game is back in for the Blues.

The Blues welcome hooker Keven Mealamu back to the starting role in the side after his late start with the team. Lock Anthony Boric is in the reserves after having a concern over his neck checked out.

FORM: Given their inability to make the most of the wealth of possession they enjoyed against the Reds, the Blues will have been thinking about how to make better use of that ball. The only trouble with that in this game is that they are up against one of the more formidable defences in the competition in the Stormers. But if they get it right they will keep the Stormers tacklers busy.

On the other hand, the Stormers battled well to contain the Hurricanes on a windy night in Palmerston North and they will have taken plenty of confidence in getting their southern tour off to a winning start. Their ability to put the pressure on through their pack will be a significant aspect of their game at Albany and the Blues will need to be on their mettle, and not give away kickable penalties, if attempting to counter the mauling game of the visitors.

WE THINK: There is great potential for this contest to be another grind 'em out affair similar to that in Brisbane where the Blues went down by one point last week. Having been acclimatised for nearly a fortnight now there should be no concerns for the Stormers although they have hinted if the day is wet they may be better suited with their style of game. However, if it is dry, and the forecast indicates that, then the Blues will fancy their chances. Both teams need the win but having suffered last week the Blues may be more desperate. We pick Blues b by 4.