Coach John Dobson insists the Stormers won’t overlook the threat posed by an upgraded Ospreys outfit when the teams clash in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon. DYLAN JACK reports.
The Stormers go into Saturday’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship match looking to build on a thrilling win over Ulster at Cape Town Stadium, which kept them on top of the South African shield and in sixth place on the table.
Ospreys are the best-ranked Welsh side in the tournament but they’re coming off a 45-15 loss to the Lions at Ellis Park.
Although nothing has been officially confirmed, the Ospreys are rumoured to be expecting a couple of big names back for the clash, including Welsh Test flyhalf Gareth Anscombe. Sitting in ninth place, six points behind the Sharks, Ospreys will also know that getting a win on Saturday is vital to keeping their fading playoff hopes alive.
Speaking on Wednesday, Dobson said that Ospreys are a better side than the margin of defeat by the Lions suggests and that the Stormers are staying on their toes for the game.
“That has been my concern is that we don’t appreciate how good the Ospreys are. They are the top Welsh franchise. They are big and direct. If you throw in an Adam Beard or a Gareth Anscombe [into the team that faced the Lions], it’s a proper rugby team.
“Part of the journey of us adapting to the URC, is that these aren’t brands yet, but we know they are good teams. So, for example, the Hurricanes or the Waratahs are well-known brands from Super Rugby. Whereas maybe an Ospreys or a Scarlets is still relatively unknown in South Africa.
“As a group and a team, we are very well aware of their threats. We know at Ellis Park the score – I wouldn’t say it flattered the Lions – but it got away from the Ospreys at the end and they stuck in that fight for a long time.
“With a reinforced team down at sea level, we know we are in for a real battle.”
After having a proper period to look back on the narrow win over Ulster, where the Stormers spent a good chunk of the second 40 playing out of their own half, Dobson said that the nature of the performance owed itself to his team’s poor execution.
“We allowed ourselves to get a little bit trapped. A lot of it was down to poor kick execution or poor decision-making, rather than us playing some stratospheric other team. Ulster did play really, really well. I thought John Cooney was magnificent, he is one of the best scrumhalves in Europe.
“We had a look at it and we feel now that a lot of it was self-inflicted. To go from a four-penalty count to 13 and give nine entries to a team as clinical and systems-based as Ulster was quite a big difference for us. It was a bit of both.
“We know that if teams do what Ulster did to us again, we will know how to deal with it. A lot it was down to execution.”
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