How Stormers attack can unlock Ospreys defence

Stormers utility back Suleiman Hartzenberg has been in top form, and must continue to chase those kicks to score tries against the Ospreys tomorrow. Photo: PHANDO JIKELO

Stormers utility back Suleiman Hartzenberg has been in top form, and must continue to chase those kicks to score tries against the Ospreys tomorrow. Photo: PHANDO JIKELO

Published Apr 19, 2024


A win over the Ospreys tomorrow is a non-negotiable for the Stormers if they want to be within a shot of ending the weekend among the top four teams on the United Rugby Championship log.

For the victory to happen, their backline will have to be on fire and light up the Cape Town Stadium (7.15pm kick-off) with their attacking prowess.

The Stormers need a win with a four-try bonus point to maximise their play-off chances.

Independent Newspapers looked at five things the backline has to focus on to emerge victorious tomorrow ...

Seamless attacking

The Stormers will heavily rely on their pivots to drive their attacking game with the ball in hand and off the boot.

It promises to be a night for running rugby, and there will be no one better to have at No 10 for this than Manie Libbok.

A few flyhalves are waiting in the wings to get a run, especially Jurie Matthee, but so late in the season and with crucial points up for grabs, the experiments should take a back seat.

Kicking out of hand and off the tee for points will be critical if they want to score a convincing win and regain some confidence.

Quick ball at the back

The second-biggest selection conundrum is probably at scrumhalf, and the Stormers will have to be spot-on here with whom they select when coach John Dobson announces his team today.

Herschel Jantjies sped up the play, and it worked against La Rochelle, which allowed for some nice attacking opportunities.

Paul de Wet and his game management could be crucial too, as he especially loves a little snipe around the ruck when he gets the opportunity.

Whoever gets the start must be accurate to get the backline away as quickly as possible, and small errors can’t be afforded that will halt the momentum.

Inside the centres

The midfield options in Cape Town are some of the finest in the country, but the problem is who plays together and when. There’s a tried-and-tested combination, but it requires playing the current top inside centre, Dan du Plessis, out of position in the No 13 jersey.

Getting over the gain line on attack and defending well in the midfield will be the priority for whoever runs out at No 12 tomorrow.

Whether the combination of Damian Willemse and Du Plessis (at 13) stays, or if Du Plessis runs out in his preferred inside centre spot, getting over the advantage line for the No 12 will be vital to secure front-foot ball possession for the Stormers attack.

— DHL Stormers (@THESTORMERS) April 17, 2024

Grabbing the high kicks

They’ve gradually improved their solidity under the high ball over the past couple of games, but more accuracy is needed.

One of their biggest weapons at the back, injured wing Leolin Zas, won’t be there to chase kicks. So fellow wing Suleiman Hartzenberg and the likes of Willemse and fullback Warrick Gelant will have to work hard to contest the up-and-unders.

Being on the other end of the kicks opens up the defence, and Hartzenberg has been on the receiving end of some pinpoint cross-kicks to score tries and get over the advantage line when he fields them ahead of the opposition.

Better finishing

Too often this season the Stormers have made themselves guilty of not capitalising on the numerous opportunities they create to score tries.

It’s mostly been happening with the backline, where the final pass or push for the tryline did not go according to plan, and they failed to cross over.

It’s time that they start using those chances. It’s deep into the season, and an extra point for a win could be the difference between a fourth place or second spot.

There is no problem with creating chances, even from deep within their own half, and they’ve produced some spectacular attacks, but they must score a five-pointer from those fortunate positions.