The DHL Stormers are expecting to make their Champions Cup debut in minus temperatures in France, but are more concerned over a worrying pattern that has emerged in their last two games.
After getting 10 points out of 10 in two home fixtures in the Vodacom United Rugby Champions, the Stormers arrived in France on Tuesday to remarkably different conditions to what they were enjoying in South Africa.
Instead of the sweltering 30-degree summer in the Cape, Saturday’s Champions Cup clash against Clermont could be played in anything between -6 to -2 degrees.
However, it’s not the change in climate that is most concerning for the Stormers. Instead, it has been their tendency in the last two games against Scarlets and Dragons in the URC to build up a big lead and then their opponents back into the match in the second half.
“It’s disappointing, especially against the Dragons where we started brilliantly but conceded an intercept try just before half-time,” said backline coach Dawie Snyman. “It gave them a bit of relief and they got the momentum on their side.
“We have to find a way to keep pressure on teams after a strong start. The statistic that stood out is that we only had 39% territory in the second half. We made a lot of mistakes in our own half. It tends to happen when things are going well and then you overplay and try a few things.
“It’s something we are definitely claiming and looking for a solution for.”
The Stormers, who finished last season as the third-best defensive side in the URC, have also been unusually leaky, conceding 45 points in their last two games, leaving defence coach Norman Laker fuming.
“Norman is still angry about Saturday,” said Snyman.
“The French have quality defenders and they are known for giving the ball air. The experience that those guys bring from the national team to their clubs will add value to them, but it’s also a great opportunity for our guys who cherish the ambition to play there.”
Photo: Steve Haag Sports/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix