CAPE TOWN – Robbie Fleck and his Stormers team are bracing themselves for a frenzied atmosphere in Buenos Aires this week, but they can at least approach it filled with confidence after their victory over the Bulls.
The Stormers avenged - pardon the Marvel pun - their thrashing at Loftus by maintaining their stronghold over their arch-rivals at Newlands with a 24-23 win on Saturday. The Bulls’ record at the foot of Table Mountain now stretches to eight years without any Super Rugby success.
It was a crucial four points for the home team as it allowed them to stay in the race for the playoffs.
With the South African conference taking the shape of rush-hour traffic with all the teams so close together, any slip-up at this stage could prove fatal.
“This win over the Bulls was important to keep us going. Small margins have gone against us this season, but fortunately we scored three good tries. We can go to Argentina to play the Jaguares with some confidence now because there was enough in our performance to get us excited. We have eased the pressure slightly,” Fleck said.
After being caught flat-footed at Loftus in round one, the Stormers showed they had learnt their lessons.
“It was a really good performance. We were the dominant team. We out-tempered them. We dominated them at the gainline. There was a soft moment that we let them in, but after that it was again all us. We dominated them physically. It shouldn’t have been that close,” Fleck said.
“Going into this game, on average, the Bulls kick the most. They rely on their defence for turnovers.
“They have got guys that work hard on the ground. Those are the two areas we were dominant. I think we out-kicked them and outsmarted them in the kicking game.
“I think we were more dominant at the breakdown. We took guys like Duane (Vermeulen) and (Marco) van Staden out of the game. Our attacking breakdown was excellent, hence the reason we could get going and run at them.”
The Jaguares are level with the Stormers on 23 points despite playing a game less and will certainly be a stiff test for the visitors, especially with the Estadio Jose Amalfitani expected to be transformed into a cauldron of intimidation.
“The Jaguares are going to be difficult in Argentina and there will be a very vocal crowd there,” Fleck said. “They have a lot more energy at home they’re physical they are emotional there and they feed off the crowd.”
The Stormers may have to travel to Argentina without Pieter-Steph du Toit. The Bok loose forward was forced off the field with a shoulder injury and would be a major setback to the visitors’ chances if he can’t make the trip.
“We will chat to (the) medical staff so I don’t have information yet” Fleck said.
“What I do know is he took a knock to the shoulder but we will only know more early next week.”@ZaahierAdams