Stormers need to build momentum against the Brumbies at Newlands
The Stormers’ Super Rugby season has the chance to really gain momentum when they take on the Brumbies at Newlands this weekend now that the worst is behind them.
At the halfway point the Stormers have won exactly 50% of their matches – four from eight.
Significantly‚ though‚ two of those wins have been away from home while they have won their only two home games so far.
They now have a run of six home matches in the next eight. If ever there was an opportunity to make a late surge for a home playoff‚ this is it.
Last week’s performance against Australian conference leaders the Rebels in Melbourne was their most rounded display of the campaign.
They defended brilliantly‚ and were clinical and creative on attack‚ profiting from chances they carved out.
The key now is to replicate that performance consistently.
Last week was a backs-to-the-wall end-of-tour effort after three defeats. That kind of emotion can only take a team so far.
They now need to display more killer instinct and composure in their familiar Newlands surroundings.
The Brumbies are tricky opponents but far from the best in the competition. They have lost four of their last five visits to Newlands‚ and despite beating the Lions 31-20 at home last week‚ are still in the bottom half of the table.
But the Brumbies are ranked as the best scrumming team in the tournament and with wet conditions expected at Newlands on Saturday‚ it could level matters.
The Stormers’ pack is missing some big names such as locks Eben Etzebeth and JD Schickerling‚ while regular captain Siya Kolisi is on the bench.
Last week they were also without that trio as well as Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ who returns this week‚ and were superb against the Rebels.
“Putting things together and getting the win against the Rebels was very satisfying‚” stand-in skipper Steven Kitshoff said.
“That win gave us the boost we needed‚ and we’re really looking forward to playing at home again this week.
“The Brumbies are a good set-piece team. They’ve got a good scrum and maul. There’s been a lot of talk about combating those strengths and building up some momentum.”
Coach Robbie Fleck also warned about the Brumbies’ set piece ability but showed his confidence in his youngsters by only making one injury-enforced change to the pack.
Du Toit replaces the injured Jaco Coetzee.
“The way the Brumbies play is almost like a Test match side‚” Fleck said.
“We know not to take them lightly from past encounters. We’ve seen them push a few sides already this season.
“They did well against the Hurricanes earlier in the tournament and troubled the Crusaders in the first half of that clash. They’re a difficult side to play against.
“We were keen to reward the young guys who performed well against the Rebels.
"We wanted to play both Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi off the bench against the Brumbies‚ but other injuries in the back row [to Juarno Augustus and Jaco Coetzee] see Pieter-Steph starting. We’re keen to see what Kobus van Dyk can do at No 8.”