John Dobson says the Stormers are “desperate as ever” to finish among the top four with back-to-back victories in their final two Vodacom United Rugby Championship fixtures, starting with a table-topping clash with Leinster in Cape Town on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The Stormers will host eight-time champions Leinster in a top-of-the-table clash on Saturday evening, having gone on a six-game unbeaten run – seven at home – to ascend to second place.
While Leinster travelled to South Africa without stars such as Jonathan Sexton and Tadhg Furlong, who stayed in Ireland to focus on the European Cup, the tourists will count themselves unfortunate not to have snatched a victory in Durban after being held up over the tryline in the final move of a narrow loss to the Sharks.
Despite the Stormers being in sensational form, Dobson said during Wednesday’s media conference that there is no chance the Cape side will slack off at this crucial stage of the season.
“Complacency is something that has not even crossed my mind,” Dobson said. “From where we were a year ago as a union, this is just so important to us. We have a chance – and I don’t want us to get ahead of ourselves – of finishing in the top two of the URC and hosting a semi-final. That would mean the world to the team and would impact rugby in the region. We are as desperate as ever.
“We are acutely aware that this young Leinster team was a tough call and held-up try away from beating a nine-Springbok Sharks team in Durban. We are fully aware of the dangers of this game and the importance to them and us.
“For the occasion, it is a pity that Johnny Sexton, Josh van der Flier and Tadhg Furlong aren’t here. But, in terms of the level of rugby, this is an on-merit first-vs-second clash with lots to play for.”
A couple of areas the Sharks were able to get plenty of joy from against Leinster were in the scrums and mauls, with the all-Springbok front row sending the Irish backwards at a rate of knots.
However, Dobson said that the Stormers, who also have two Bok props in Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, expect Leinster to be far better in those facets of the game.
“We think they will be much more developed and experienced in terms of their maul defence. We don’t expect to get as easy a ride in those areas as the Sharks did. They have made it clear that they want to pick up some areas of their kick chase.
“With the conditions being dry, it will give them a chance to play the multi-phase rugby which they are known for.”
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