Stormers’ senior players stand up at the right time

18 March 2018 - 17:31 By Craig Ray
Damian de Allende of the Stormers (l) celebrates scoring a try with teammates during the Super Rugby match against the Jaguares at Newlands Stadium, Cape Town on 17 February 2018.
Damian de Allende of the Stormers (l) celebrates scoring a try with teammates during the Super Rugby match against the Jaguares at Newlands Stadium, Cape Town on 17 February 2018.
Image: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Big results require the big players to step up and lead the way‚ which is exactly what the remaining experienced core of the Stormers squad did during Saturday’s 37-20 win over the Blues at Newlands.

The home side went into the match completely decimated by a flu virus that felled 80 per cent of the squad in the week before the clash.

Yet‚ they produced their best 40 minutes of rugby to take a 24-3 halftime lead and effectively put the game out of reach of the visitors.

Key to their fine effort were the magnificent performances of men such as captain Siya Kolisi‚ flank Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ centre Damian de Allende‚ fullback Dillyn Leyds and No 8 Nizaam Carr.

The Bok quintet gave the home team the type of momentum that allowed less experienced players to thrive.

Flyhalf Damian Willemse was again excellent with both his willingness to keep defences occupied on the gain line and his ability to distribute the ball while centre EW Viljoen outshone his brilliant opposite number Rieko Ioane.

“Today was a day when the senior playing group delivered for us‚ and we needed them to‚ considering what went on in the build-up to the game‚” Fleck said.

“That’s what you expect.

"If you look at the Chiefs versus Bulls on Friday‚ the Chiefs turned it around‚ and why? Because their big players – Brodie Retallick and Sam Cane – took control.

“That’s what happened for us – our senior players stepped up and delivered‚ which allowed players such as (reserve lock) Salmaan Moerat to come on and give a good showing.

“It allowed Damian Willemse the freedom to play his game and cause problems.”

Fleck had special praise for De Allende‚ who is enjoying a good season and starting to show the form that mad him the best centre in the country in 2015.

De Allende was one of the players worst hit by the flu and didn’t train in the lead up to the match.

By the time he was withdrawn midway through the second half‚ he was completely out of energy and went for precautionary medical assessments as he was pale and dizzy.

“Damian de Allende has been outstanding for three weeks now and he was superb against the Blues‚” Fleck said.

“But he was out on his feet when we took him off. He was in bed most of the week‚ so for him to deliver what he did was fantastic.

“Damian is on the right track to finding his 2015 form again.

"He has two big carries where he knocked Sonny Bill Williams over‚ he made some big hits and is making good decisions. He is a vital player for us.

“That was a fine performance from us in the first half and the challenge is now to perform like for 80 minutes‚ and also every weekend.

"We will take a lot of confidence from this and build on it because it’s exciting when we get it right.”


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