Stormers will draw inspiration from recent Chiefs success
On paper the Stormers shouldn’t have much of a hope of beating the Chiefs in this weekend’s Super Rugby quarterfinal at Newlands‚ but the home team will draw on recent successes in their build-up to the clash.
Both were at Newlands. So there is hope. Saturday’s quarterfinal against the Chiefs is a repeat of last year’s encounter at the same stage‚ at the same venue.
The Chiefs shocked the Stormers with their intensity and skill‚ winning 60-21 to humble the Cape Town side. But when the sides met in Pool play in early April‚ it was the Stormers that won 34-26‚ completing an astonishing turnaround after their 2016 play-off humiliation.
“We looked at the quarterfinal from last year before our [April] meeting against them this year‚ and that had an impact on how we played against them‚” coach Robbie Fleck said. “So we will study what we did right and look at the positives from the win and use them. But they also exploited us in one or two areas‚ so we have to learn from that.
“This is a one-off game‚ they have some big players back this time‚ and are nearly at full strength‚ as are we.
"They will be up for it and they showed us here a year ago what they can do‚ but we showed what we could do a few months ago‚ and we will take a lot of confidence and belief from that win. “We know what we are facing.
"They are a world-class team and previous champions‚ with an excellent coaching staff. We struggled against NZ teams over there (the Stormers lost to the Crusaders‚ Highlanders and Hurricanes in NZ) but at home we have done well and this team of ours‚ when challenged‚ can take a step up.
“The fact that we have beaten two NZ sides this season is a boost for us.” The Stormers’ play-off record in Super Rugby is also poor with one win in eight play-off games – the 2010 semi-final against the Waratahs. It’s a stat that is hauled out at this stage of the season and Fleck admits the team is aware of it‚ although he claims they are not wasting energy and worrying about what can’t be altered.
“Last year we probably tried to change too much in the week before the quarterfinal and built it up too much by investing too much emotion in it with new plans‚’ Fleck said.
“We’ve learnt to keep it simple and keep doing what we have been doing because if you change‚ the players lose clarity and you don’t get the detail right. “So we are treating it as just another game.
"We know that there is pressure from fans and critics about the Stormers’ past record in play-offs‚ but we can’t dwell on that. We just have to get on with the job.”