Not only are they desperate for a win that could possibly lift them off the bottom of the standings, but they have been desperately poor all season in terms of the quality of their game. In fact so poor are the Stormers at present – their lengthy injury list aside – that most pundits suggest it is a given the Highlanders will end a seven-year drought against the men from Cape Town.
And it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Highlanders rout the Stormers, given that the New Zealand franchise have won their last three matches (against the Rebels, Bulls and Sharks), while they have lost just once since mid-March.
Stormers coach Alister Coetzee, who is fast running out of reasons for his team’s dramatic slump in form, admitted they are in a dire situation.
2012: Stormers won 21-6, Dunedin
2011: Stormers won 18-6, Cape Town
2010: Stormers won 33-0, Cape Town
2009: Stormers won 18-11, Dunedin
2008: Stormers won 26-16, Cape Town
2007: Highlanders won 35-24, Dunedin
Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Damian de Allende, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Michael Rhodes, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Kobus van Wyk.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Trent Renata, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 John Hardie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 Shane Christie, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Jason Emery, 23 Phil Burleigh.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)