Stormers wary of Edinburgh’s Price, Van der Merwe

Stormers coach John Dobson. | BackpagePix

Stormers coach John Dobson. | BackpagePix

Published Mar 19, 2024


Leighton Koopman

The Stormers have a set team for the next couple of matches in the URC as they look to break back into the top eight and play-off spots.

After falling to the Bulls in their last match, the Stormers have a run of home matches over the next couple of weeks to gain momentum as they also prepare for a crucial Champions Cup knockout clash against La Rochelle next month.

For now, the focus is on Edinburgh on Saturday (kick-off 5.05pm), where they can leap towards the top eight with a bonus point victory in front of their supporters.

Stormers coach John Dobson. | BackpagePix

After an absence of almost two months, the inaugural URC winners are excited to play at DHL Stadium again as they target the next two matches, looking to gain some winning momentum.

The loss at Loftus brought about a first-ever defeat to the Bulls in the competition, but the Stormers have already identified their shortcomings in that North-South derby, which they hope will be fixed by Saturday.

Failing to curb the Bulls’ contestable kicks and stopping the rolling mauls of the Pretoria side were two of the biggest contributing factors to their downfall.

Edinburgh can dish up the same with their pack of forwards and backline and it’s something Stormers coach John Dobson wants his side to overcome early in the game.

The Cape side would not have found themselves in this position if they had won one or two matches on tour early on, but now they will have to make up those points in the final part of the season when they will mostly play at home.

“I am not worried about the position or where we are,” Dobson said yesterday.

Wandisile Simelane could make his first start in the URC for the Stormers in the coming weeks. | Backpagepix

“I’ve got no doubt that in this home run, we will get momentum and that (the log position) will look after itself. Our process now is a lot better than when we were on tour. The tour was where the damage was done, not at Loftus.

“What is important now, is to build momentum, and everything will follow after that. We just need to beat Edinburgh, and that log will look different. If we get through Ulster, it will look more different.”

Dobson also stressed that, with the exception of the Bulls, most of the teams above them will still have to travel to South Africa and that will be a tough task that could see the URC standings change too.

A bonus point win over Edinburgh will see them leapfrog the Scottish club if the Stormers in turn keep them from collecting any points from the match.

The visitors will likely rock up with all their Scotland internationals after the completion of the Six Nations this past weekend, and they will be eager to get over the disappointment of losing to Ireland.

Scotland's Duhan van der Merwe is expected to tour with Edinburgh and could face the Stormers on Saturday. | EPA

“Edinburgh is a tough team, they’ve done well this season. But we are also putting out a fantastic team. We learnt a lot from Loftus and there’s been some good growth in this team.

“From a coaching point of view, we missed some stuff against the Bulls. We could not get our line-out defence right and their desperation we didn’t match. Then there are a couple of other things like the contestable kicks, setting stuff on the attack, and maul variations on their line. But the things we identified are really easy for us to fix.”

The Stormers have highlighted winger Duhan van der Merwe, and scrumhalf Ali Price as attackers they’ll have to stop, and along with Argentine Emiliano Bofelli, they can bring some headaches for the home side when it comes to defending their line.

“Duhan is a world-class player, we can’t give him too much space as he’s bulldozed through international sides this season. They have an excellent kicking game and have hung around well in the northern hemisphere. But it’s going to be different in Cape Town.”