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Blues brace for Stormers muscle

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/05/2017 Angelo Risso

The Blues are on red-alert for a resurgent Stormers tight five when the two Super Rugby sides clash in Cape Town on Saturday (NZT). © Hannah Peters/Getty Images The Blues are on red-alert for a resurgent Stormers tight five when the two Super Rugby sides clash in Cape Town on Saturday (NZT). The Blues are on red-alert for a resurgent Stormers tight five when the two Super Rugby sides clash in Cape Town on Saturday (NZT).

The Stormers are riding high in the Africa 1 conference but were belted in successive weeks by the Crusaders, Highlanders and Hurricanes on their recent Kiwi tour.

Coming off a bye, they have called powerful Springboks trio Frans Malherbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth back into the fold, boosting their set piece-heavy approach.

Tana Umaga's Blues, meanwhile, will be without injured loosehead Pauliasi Manu and benched Test lock Patrick Tuipulotu for their trip to Newlands.

The Blues' defence at lineout against the Cheetahs last weekend was shaky at best, and conceded three tries to mauls - an issue that requires urgent repair.

"It's no secret that if we give away a penalty in our own half, they're going to kick it to the corner and drive, so we've got to be very disciplined and make good decisions around the tackle area," Blues assistant coach Alistair Rogers said.

"We've had some discussions around that and gone back to basics and put some real clarity into the detail around everyone's role there - we know it'll be tested."

The Blues have kept their slim finals hopes alive with consecutive wins over the Brumbies, Waratahs and Cheetahs, but still need to win almost every remaining game to qualify.

Jerome Kaino and Jimmy Tupou remain on the sidelines for this weekend, but star midfielder Sonny Bill Williams returns from concussion to partner centre George Moala.

The Stormers, meanwhile, are almost guaranteed a home quarter-final - despite having fewer points on the board than their Auckland-based opponents.

Nevertheless, Rogers predicted a genuine battle in Cape Town.

"We've got to embrace that and look forward to that challenge, the boys have travelled well and are pretty excited by the opportunity," he said.

"They're going to throw the kitchen sink at us."

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