CAPE TOWN - The Stormers returned to winning ways with a 30-22 victory over the Blues at Newlands in round 13.
And as good as that win was for Robbie Fleck’s team’s confidence after that bad tour to New Zealand, they will have to go all out again to keep the morale high when they travel to Durban for their meeting with the Sharks on Saturday.
So, here are five ways the Stormers can hook a Shark:
1 Stop the double trouble
I doubt there’s anyone who particularly enjoys attempting a tackle on Sharks loose forward Jean-Luc du Preez. At 1.94m and 113kg, the guy is a huge problem – literally.
He’s one tough player to bring down, and the way he busts through tackles by either manoeuvring his way out of contact or simply bulldozing over it (you should check his tackles-broken stats, it’s quite impressive). Anyway, as if it wasn’t enough trouble dealing with one Du Preez, imagine having to somehow handle two. Well, the Stormers won’t have to wonder about what it’s like for too long.
The duo have played together a couple of times this season, and while Jean-Luc has put his name out there in a big way over the past two seasons, Daniel (who’s even taller than his brother and just one kilogram lighter, I should add) has had to deal with injury. And did I mention how agile they are for such big men?
Point is, the Stormers shouldn’t even allow them much movement, especially not Jean-Luc. They should smother them. Be on them as soon as a player shows the slightest intent of getting the ball to one of them. And they should do it consistently. After all, it’s easier keeping these guys out than it is stopping them.
2 Dominate the set-piece
We all know this is one of the Sharks’ strengths (Is it still? With so many areas and teams taking a dip in Super Rugby, one never knows anymore). One thing’s for sure, the Stormers can’t let the men from Durban gain any ascendancy in this department.
Because if they do, 1) those mentioned under point No 1 will get a chance to get their hulk-like hands on the ball and, 2) well, it just shouldn’t happen. And I doubt it will. The Stormers’ pack have done well this season and they’ve come out on top in a number of scrummaging contests.
Their hookers have been a bit wayward with their throwing-in at the lineouts, but there was a big improvement against the Blues, Oh, and Eben Etzebeth of course just has to menace the opposition at the lineouts again.
3 Captain Siya, lead the way!
The Stormers skipper has been one of the standout performers for his side this season, and his inspirational outings can certainly be a powerful force in the Stormers’ play this weekend again.
From great work at the breakdowns to superb, break-through-defence runs and even better running lines, Kolisi has just been tremendous. And their game against the Sharks will be another fixture where he can, well, lead from the front.
4 Unleash Senatla
The Sharks must be pretty chuffed with their centre Lukhanyo Am being included in Allister Coetzee’s Bok squad, but the Stormers have their own back to puff their chests out about, and that is Seabelo Senatla.
Yep, Bok or not, Senatla can do damage, and the Stormers should set him free to do just that. I don’t see any one of the Sharks stopping the Sevens superstar from reaching the try line. And as if he wasn’t enough of a threat out wide, the Stormers will also have Dillyn Leyds (if he doesn’t stand in at flyhalf again). And I don’t think I need to explain what it will be like having the two of them next to touch.
5 Keep playing the game
The Stormers have made good progress with their new, attacking approach this season, and this week’s fixture should be seen as another step that can take them closer to their attacking goal.
Fleck and his coaching staff have made it clear that they weren’t planning on swaying from their new style, and they should keep at it – all the time. They should put the Sharks under pressure with it and they should beat them with it. Simple as that.