AFTER a bye last weekend, the Stormers should be nicely rested before fronting up to the Western Force in Perth, Australia, on Friday morning.
Still second on the Super 14 log, the Cape-based side will be looking to follow in the footsteps of the Bulls and notch up a win in the opening match of their overseas tour. But as last week's match between the Bulls and Force illustrated, there is no such thing as an easy game when it comes to Super 14 rugby, and the Stormers clash is bound to be just as competitive.
In previous overseas campaigns the Stormers have always been reasonably good tourists and coach Alistair Coetzee will know the importance of a positive start.
He should have the services of flyhalf Peter Grant to call on come match day. Grant will be vital for the fluency of the Stormers' play.
His link play with the outside combination of Juan de Jongh, Jacque Fourie, Bryan Habana and Joe Pietersen has been a highlight of the Stormers play this year and has played a large part in the free-flowing rugby the side is producing. Upfront captain Schalk Burger can be expected to do the hard yards and the Force will be hard pressed to stop a determined team. Against the Bulls last weekend, the Force were competitive for the first 60 minutes until the boys in blue wore them down to win comfortably.
This week Force coach John Mitchell will expect nothing less than 80 minutes of concentration that will hopefully result in their first win of the season and give them some much-needed confidence.
Meanwhile, the Bulls remain the only unbeaten side this year.
Up against the Blues in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday, the Bulls come face-to-face with a side that continues to blow hot and cold. Last week they threw away a victory against the Waratahs.
At home the Blues will not be easy and a win against the form-setting Bulls could just kick-start them for the second half of the competition. For the Lions this will be the first week that they are guaranteed not to lose another match . they have a bye!
Seven losses from seven games and the Gauteng side should be grateful for the week's rest before hopefully getting their campaign back on track with a home game against the Reds next Saturday at Ellis Park. Between now and then coach Dick Muir will have his work cut out in tightening up their defence, which has leaked 27 tries this season.