CAPE TOWN – There were quite a few relieved souls at Newlands on Saturday evening. Not only did Herschel Jantjies’ late try pull off a first win for the Stormers of the season, but it allowed the entire union to exhale for at least one more week.
The Stormers were under incredible pressure after their Loftus debacle the previous week, when they were thrashed by the Bulls. With all the off-field dramas hanging over the team like a dark cloud, two defeats in a row, in addition to the failure of not being able to score a single try in the process would have made them sitting ducks.
The relief was evident at training at the High-Performance Centre in Bellville yesterday.
Everyone was walking a little bit lighter and the players seemed intent to express themselves more and they are hoping to take this new-found confidence into their third consecutive South African derby against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
“We were under a lot of pressure after the loss in Pretoria. So, it was very much a laager fight your way out (of) a corner performance,” Stormers breakdown coach John Dobson said.
“Hopefully, this week we can look to attack more and just generally (improve) how we play and approach the game.
“On reflection there were some good things like physicality on defence, and at the breakdown, and I think that will give us confidence.”
Such is the nature of Super Rugby that the challenge awaiting the Stormers at Kings Park is an entirely different one.
Whereas the Lions are a team that enjoys using the width of the field in attack and challenges the breakdown area with ferocity on defence, the Sharks have a much more confrontational game plan.
“The big difference for us, is that the Sharks are more of a gain-line team than the Lions,” Dobson said. “They get that off-loading game going, which puts them on the front foot. There will be more of a gain-line battle.
Whereas the Lions are more looking to push you down in defence with their four/five stealers in the team. It is a bit more direct against the Sharks. They have also developed their kicking game, with Rob du Preez, Louis Schreuder and Curwin Bosch kicking very accurately.”
Dobson believes the Stormers can counter this by playing at high-pace, despite the predicted threat of inclement weather.
“It looks like there may a bit of rain around, but we want to play quickly. I think we are well conditioned,” he said.
“There are probably more positives from Saturday when we watched it again.
“Towards the end we were pushing tempo quite nicely. That is obviously something we want to work on for Saturday.”@ZaahierAdams