Stormers march on after Saints win

Wandisile Simelane scored his first try for the Stormers this past weekend. | Backpagepix

Wandisile Simelane scored his first try for the Stormers this past weekend. | Backpagepix

Published Mar 11, 2024


Leighton Koopman

John Dobson will have a couple of tough selection calls to make over the Stormers’ next couple of matches after some impressive performances by his fringe players in Saturday’s away win over Northampton Saints in England.

The Stormers ran in seven tries to win 45-29, and it was a panacea for their coach after their first United Rugby Championship (URC) loss to the Bulls last weekend.

It will be another break from rugby for the Cape side this week, with their next URC clash against Edinburgh at the DHL Stadium where they will look to get their campaign back on track to break into the top eight and play-off spots.

More than a handful of fringe players put their hand up against the English Premiership log leaders at cinch Stadium, Franklin’s Gardens, and they will be eager for some URC action.

“We are without our alignment camp players, and they are without their England internationals, but to get that outcome against the pacesetters in the Premiership was very pleasing,” Dobson said.

“To play like we did, the fluency in attack, the turnovers we made. We embraced the short trip, some guys only got in on Friday, but it was nice to travel direct. It was very good to win.

“At some stages, it looked like they were going to bring it back, but we took it (the game) away nicely.”

Wandisile Simelane scored his first try for the Stormers this past weekend. | Backpagepix

That is one of the areas the Stormers will look to keep improving on – burying their opponents when they have the opportunity – because in the URC and Champions Cup they’ve often found themselves clinging on thanks to their defence. But on Saturday, they kept their foot on the throat of Saints to clinch the game.

Dobson will hope the injury to dynamic eighth man Keke Morabe is not that serious. He put in a massive shift, and scored a sensational solo try almost from his own half after poaching a ball at a ruck. Fellow loose-forward Junior Pokomela also looked good back on the field and his coach will be pleased about that.

In the backline, outside centre Wandisile Simelane and flyhalf Jurie Matthee had good outings, too. Matthee put in some clever kicks on the attack and distributed the ball well down the backline, and he will make a good backup to Springbok Manie Libbok.

“Keke unfortunately twisted his knee and will go for a scan. But three steals in the 38 minutes on the field, and a great try – Wandisile, Jurie, the scrumhalves, the locks.

“The scrum in the first half, to have Sazi (Sandi) back, was important. A win in the northern hemisphere, although Northampton plays a different brand to the other teams, was equally important.

“Our intensity, our work rate, and the enjoyment of playing against each other was very special. It was a good panacea after the disappointment in Pretoria last week.

“We have a happy team and a happy changeroom. That will be important when we tackle the next couple of weeks leading up to the game against La Rochelle (in the Champions Cup knockout) on the April 6.”