Stormers defence in good space

Allister Coetzee says the Stormers are well placed to repel the Cheetahs attack and strengthen their position at the top of the conference. JON CARDINELLI reports.

The Stormers missed an opportunity to bank five log points at Newlands this past Saturday. The Cape side scored their third try against the Rebels in the 46th minute, but couldn't claim a fourth try and ultimately the bonus point in the 34 minutes that followed.

On Monday, Coetzee admitted that the Stormers’ attacking play requires sharpening. That said, the Stormers coach feels his side made a significant statement with a physically defensive performance against the Rebels. A lot of teams tend to struggle in the week after a bye, but the Stormers managed to produce a typically abrasive showing.

‘I made the point after the game, and I’ll say it again: the Rebels are a well-organised side that has attacked very well this season,’ Coetzee said. ‘After reviewing the game, I can confirm that we were tested on defence. It’s for that reason why I was so pleased we only conceded two tries. I was very happy with the intensity levels in the game considering the players were coming off a bye.

‘It was not the perfect all-round performance, and clearly everything is not in place. But what's also clear is that there's a massive desire in this team. It bodes well for the coming derby, which should be just as physical.’

Schalk Burger will be rested this weekend as per the management agreement with Saru. Coetzee will need to rest other Springboks such as Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth and Frans Malherbe over the next three weeks if the Stormers are going to meet Saru's requirements.

That Burger is the only contracted Bok player scheduled for rest this coming weekend shows how serious Coetzee is about maintaining the physical effort and securing a win against the Cheetahs. In theory, this should be the easiest of the Stormers’ last three league games. The penultimate clash will be played against the resurgent Lions, who are not out of the play-off hunt just yet. The final game of the round robin stage will be against the Sharks in Durban.

With Burger unavailable, the Stormers will field a different sort of back row against the Cheetahs. Nizaam Carr is smaller and less combative than Burger, and yet, will need to maintain the defensive standards set by the Bok icon.

‘We will keep continuity in Siya at openside and Duane at No 8,’ said Coetzee. ‘Nemo [Carr] brings something different to the blindside flank position, his strength is his ball-carrying, distribution, and running skills.

‘It’s a big game for the Cheetahs, they always look forward to this fixture [against the Stormers in Cape Town], so they will be up for it. For us, it’s about building on what we did well last week and rectifying what we didn’t do well. We won’t allow ourselves to become emotional, we will remain clear on what we want to achieve.’

Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images

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