Cape Town – The last time the Stormers lost at Cape Town Stadium was more than a year ago against the Lions, and coach John Dobson has urged his team to round off an unbeaten 2022 at home with a victory over the Johannesburg side on New Year’s Eve.
Since that 37-19 loss to Ivan van Rooyen’s team on December 4, 2021, the Stormers have enjoyed a 17-match winning streak at the 2010 Fifa World Cup venue and other URC and Champions Cup games that have been played in Stellenbosch and Gqeberha.
It started on Saturday, February 5 with a 20-10 win over the Sharks at Cape Town Stadium, and continued with the 37-27 bonus-point victory over the Bulls on Friday.
“It’s a Saturday game, so we’ve got eight days. We can give the guys Christmas Day and Day of Goodwill off, so we are giving them the extra day off,” Dobson said.
“We know full well that we would undo all the good work of today if we don’t put in a really good performance next week.
“I’ve got no worries about that – we did it quite well this week. Get them out of training as quickly as we can: No unnecessary Dobbo meetings, no talks about Greek mythology and Shakespeare and stuff like that – I will treat them to that in the New Year!
“That was probably our lowest point last season, that 37-19 (loss), as well as we played – that sounds odd. We were all part of the journey when we started transitioning here… We lost to Griquas at home in the Currie Cup, and lost to the Bulls and Sharks here.
“And we thought, ‘What is this Green Point thing?’. And now it’s over 380 days since we lost here, and we need this Lions one to make it the whole of 2022 (unbeaten). And that’s really important to us.
“We’ve got one more game on New Year’s Eve against a team that really beat us quite convincingly here on the fourth of December last year. It’s going to be a big driver for us as a coaching group. The Lions don’t go away... and maul really well.”
But despite their resilience, the Stormers have been hard hit by serious injuries, particularly at lock, where the latest casualty is Springbok Salmaan Moerat, who will be sidelined for between six and nine months with an ACL knee problem.
And if you add Adre Smith and Ernst van Rhyn’s absence, it is understandable that Dobson feels he might have to sign an additional second-rower in the coming weeks.
Ben-Jason Dixon was praised by Dobson and Steven Kitshoff for a hard-working display against the Bulls at No 4 – with the Stormers captain stating: “You could actually hear the collisions that BJ made in midfield and the way he stopped momentum and the way he worked.
“We spoke about it in the week, just his presence. Even though he’s not inexperienced, as he has played a lot of Varsity Cup, but he doesn’t have a lot of URC caps, but played exceptionally well.”
But the Stormers coach is considering bringing in additional lock resources.
“It is exceptional (the amount of lock injuries). We only have so much depth, and Marvin will have to be rested in February/March, so that takes another lock out. Our locks are not small injuries: Adre Smith won’t play again this season, Salmaan is not going to play again this season, Ernst is many months,” Dobson said.
“We’ve got another youngster in Simon Miller – he is very much like Connor (Evans) and BJ (Dixon), and it will be great to give him an opportunity, but even that is probably not going to be enough.
“But the thing about bringing anybody in, it must be a difference-maker. But BJ did very well tonight.”
2022 Stormers Home Record
Saturday 5 February, Cape Town Stadium (CTS): Stormers 20-10 Sharks
Sunday 13 March, Stellenbosch: Stormers 55-7 Zebre Parma
Sunday 20 March, CTS: Stormers 40-3 Cardiff
Saturday 26 March, CTS: Stormers 23-20 Ulster
Saturday 2 April, CTS: Stormers 29-13 Ospreys
Saturday 9 April, CTS: Stormers 19-17 Bulls
Friday 22 April, CTS: Stormers 32-7 Glasgow
Saturday 30 April, CTS: Stormers 20-13 Leinster
Saturday 4 June, CTS: Stormers 28-17 Edinburgh
Saturday 11 June, CTS: Stormers 17-15 Ulster (2021-22 semi-final)
Saturday 18 June, CTS: Stormers 18-13 Bulls (2021-22 final)
Saturday 24 September, Stellenbosch: Stormers 38-15 Connacht
Saturday 1 October, CTS: Stormers 34-18 Edinburgh
Friday 25 November, CTS: Stormers 36-19 Scarlets
Saturday 3 December, Gqeberha: Stormers 34-26 Dragons
Saturday 17 December, CTS: Stormers 34-14 London Irish
Friday 23 December, CTS: Stormers 37-27 Bulls