DHL Stormers coach John Dobson insists there will be no panic stations despite the reigning champions’ 14-match winning run in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship coming to an end.
The visitors from Cape Town were held to a 16-16 draw by the Ospreys in atrocious conditions at a rain-lashed Swansea.com Stadium on Friday night. They now remain in south Wales to prepare for a meeting with Cardiff at the Arms Park next Saturday.
“That match has obviously become more important for us now. Hopefully, in that game we can play some rugby,” said Dobson. “This result won’t change our selection policy. We got to be quite disciplined about sticking to the process.
“Look, it’s not a bad team we are putting out in Cardiff next week. Frans Malherbe will come in the mix, Steven Kitshoff and Joseph Dweba will still be around, so we are not going to fly guys back out.
“We are 17 points from four games, it’s a reasonable start. It’s not a reason for us to sort of panic. A draw in these conditions against a good Ospreys side is no reason for us to throw out our plans.
“We can’t complain too much with being unbeaten after four games. Quite a few guys have been missing. I was worried about us this season because we lost a few guys, had more guys go to the national team, but we actually feel we have got more depth than last season with the young players coming through.”
Dobson, a former hooker for Western Province, acknowledges that the Stormers now face new challenges as defending URC champions.
“Everyone wants to beat us. You could see the Ospreys were the more cheerful team with the draw at the end, which shows how much it meant to them,” he said.
“Martin Anayi [league CEO] said at the pre-season launch that they want to get to the American thing of ‘Any Given Sunday’ or ‘Any Given Saturday’. We feel like that now. I promise you, Zebre last week was tough. We were very defensive. This was a real fight against the Ospreys. We will have a hard one in Cardiff.
“I think it’s beautiful for the league. The days of the Irish provinces resting six guys to go somewhere, you won’t get away with it any longer, which is good. It’s a great competition.”
As for the torrential rain the Stormers encountered in Swansea, Dobson said: “We haven’t played in conditions like that in the tournament. We couldn’t see the field from where we were.
“I think it’s only fair and right. We know we had a bit of a lucky run back in South Africa with all those home games between February and March. It’s only right that it’s going to work like that in this competition. The Ospreys had to come down to us in February in 32 degrees in Cape Town. They’ve got to go to Pretoria in November.
“That’s part of this competition. We have to be able to play both sorts of games. I was pleased with that side of us. I thought it was one of our better performances, given the conditions. We were reasonably good tactically until the last 10 minutes. We had lots of territory and scored one of our classic tries.
“I think we are satisfied. We’re playing with energy and maybe just letting ourselves down in one or two areas like the lineout, while our scrum looked a bit creaky in the first half.
“We will be better for this and I think we could have won it with better game management towards the end. I thought the way the Ospreys stayed in the fight was really good. Both teams tried to win it at the end. It was pretty hair-raising – for those who have hair!”
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