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Stormers sweating on Senatla, Elstadt injuries

Super Rugby

SINGAPORE – The Stormers picked up a few injuries in their 44-31 Super Rugby win over the Sunwolves on Saturday.

Flank Rynhardt Elstadt (ankle), tighthead prop Wilco Louw (sternum) and wing Seabelo Senatla (foot) may be in doubt for next weekend’s clash against the Cheetahs at Newlands.

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Stormers wing Seabelo Senatla hurt his foot against the Sunwolves. Photo: Wallace Woon, EPA

The full extent of these injuries will be confirmed once they have been properly assessed in Cape Town upon their return from Singapore.

Coach Robbie Fleck said that he will have some tough selection decisions to make this week, with a number of players impressing in Singapore and others returning from being rested this week.

“We have got an extremely tough match against the Cheetahs, who are a quality outfit and we have got to plan accordingly,” he said.

“There are some players who stuck their hands up, so selection is going to be tough this week. There are a few guys who remained behind and should be fit and ready.”

Among those who missed the Sunwolves game as part of their designated resting period were Springboks Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Frans Malherbe.

Meanwhile, Stormers captain Siya Kolisi was too happy to accept the victory over the Sunwolves after the hosts shot into a 24-10 lead in the first half.

With the Stormers forwards taking a battering and their defence in tatters, it looked like it was going to be a long night in the humid air of Singapore.

But Kolisi pulled his troops together, and they recovered to 24-20 behind at halftime, before holding on for a six-tries-to-four triumph.

“Ja, it was very tough. We knew, coming here, that it was going to be very tough – especially with the conditions. But at least we were more prepared this time,” Kolisi said in the post-match interview.

“But you know what, we were sleeping at the beginning of the game. They came with the same start as last year. But at least we had more fight this year. We fought more, and came back to win.”

After scoring a thrilling try by centre EW Viljoen – which was started by Senatla inside the Stormers 22, and saw a number of brilliant offloads in the tackle – Fleck’s team went the conservative route.

The pick-and-go tactic was adopted for the rest of the night, and it proved to be highly effective as the Stormers forwards reclaimed physical dominance after being overpowered by the Sunwolves initially.

Siya Kolisi goes on another thunderous run against the Sunwolves. Photo: Wallace Woon, EPA


Kolisi admitted that the players had actually gone off coach Fleck’s script.

“Ja, that was the plan from the coach from the beginning – not to play. We had to kick, because we know how they love attacking. We made a lot of mistakes when we started playing from our half, so that’s the biggest mistake we made in the first half,” he said.

“So we had to carry it in, keep it with the forwards and go through the middle. That was our plan, but we didn’t start off that way. We got excited for nothing at the beginning – that’s why we found ourselves behind.”

The Stormers extended their unbeaten run to four matches and top Africa Conference 1, but now face a daunting run of games that includes facing their 2016 conquerors the Chiefs and finalists the Lions, before they travel to New Zealand to take on the Crusaders, Highlanders and Hurricanes.

“Yeah, but we take it one game at a time. We are going to enjoy this, and we are flying back tonight,” said Kolisi.

“We have to prepare for a tough coming six weeks because we’ve got the Cheetahs at home, and then the Chiefs and the Lions. Then straight to New Zealand, with no break, and three weeks on the trot there.”

African News Agency (ANA)

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