CAPE TOWN – While the Stormers might be under pressure to win their away game against the Lions and get some good continuity, centre EW Viljoen sees their fixture at Ellis Park as “another opportunity to play together and improve”.
The Stormers will be going into the fixture after suffering a 33-23 defeat to the Bulls at Loftus at the weekend. In that game, the Bulls had the upper hand throughout, and although the Stormers did well to fight back in the first half and turn a sizeable deficit into only a one-point gap at halftime, they made too many mistakes, and the two yellow cards they were dealt obviously didn’t make things any easier either.
But fact of the matter is that although “improvement” is of course vital, at some point that improvement needs to convert into results. And no one knows that better than the Stormers themselves, who have lost all four of their away games this season.
And with a predictably tough one coming up against the 2017 Super Rugby finalists and another thereafter against the Sharks in Durban, the Stormers need to win this away game and get their momentum and confidence up there.
“We didn’t play in the right areas of the field and we didn’t get continuity, we didn’t put them (the Bulls) under pressure either. They exploited our mistakes and put us under pressure the whole game,” Viljoen said. “It’s another big one this weekend and we really want to win. Our plans are in place and it’s another opportunity to play together as a team and improve.”
While the Lions haven’t been on song this season, they can never be considered an easy team to beat. And the outside centre knows that the Stormers are going to have to be on point in Johannesburg this weekend.
“They have a few good seasons behind them and it’s a good opportunity for us to prove ourselves against a good team and show what we’re capable of. They’re very energetic, they throw the ball around and they’re not scared to play. We play the same brand of rugby and it’s difficult to defend against teams like those. They don’t just run, they’re quite clever, they play in the right areas of the field,” Viljoen said.
“Every game against them is always a big game, we have to work hard to play at the best of our abilities this weekend. It’s always nice to play there - Ellis Park is a proud venue and we’re looking forward to playing there.”
The Stormers will enjoy some rest after eight straight rounds following this weekend’s date before they travel to Durban to battle the Sharks. Robbie Fleck’s side have struggled with a great number of injuries and that bye will be a good break for them to recuperate and sort out whatever they feel they need to. And while the bye will come in handy, Viljoen believes the whole team is still “fresh” after their efforts.
“I’m fresh, I believe the whole team is fresh. There’s always a niggle or two after a game, but our conditioning coach is doing a good job of managing the players,” he said.