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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

Moerat says Stormers are treating Ulster clash like a URC playoff

The Stormers are in fifth place on the table with 35 points.

With the United Rugby Championship regular season heading to a crucial stage where teams are fighting to finish in the top half of the 16-team competition, the Stormers are treating their last six games as playoffs, which is telling of their championship mettle.

The Stormers have had a rather interesting season as it has not been of the standards they have set in the last two campaigns in the URC where they played in two finals, winning one and narrowly losing the other.

After 12 games played, the Stormers are in fifth place on the points table with 35 points. The side from Cape Town are aiming to peak in the remaining matches so they can finish as high as possible to secure a home playoff spot.

Stormers in playoff mode

So, Saturday’s game with the Irish province Ulster at Cape Town Stadium (7.15 pm) is not just a regular encounter for the Stormers, it’s a match that’s vital towards their goal of hosting a home quarter-final.

“For us each and every week is like playoffs now,” said Stormers captain Salmaan Moerat.

“At the end of the day we would love to host a home quarter-final, that’s a long-term goal. Ultimately, tomorrow (Saturday) is a big challenge for us.”

Stormers assistant coach Dawie Snyman shared the same sentiments as Moerat, reiterating his point of the team being at a playoff stage already while stating they have every intention of winning their second URC title.

“We back ourselves to go all the way. That’s what we work towards every single day, and every single session to become the best team that we can be, “said Snyman.

“It’s been building blocks for us (this season) and it’s still going to be building blocks going into the playoff games. Luckily, as Salmaan said, we are in playoff scenarios very early, so we’ll learn from it and we have to be always accurate when we play.”

‘A bit more personal’

Saturday’s clash with Ulster, who have two-time Rugby World Cup winning Springbok Steven Kitshoff in their ranks, is a big match for the Stormers. The side from Cape Town have had dominance over Ulster over the last couple of seasons, winning three of the four meetings.

Moerat knows they are in for a tough game as Ulster have more physicality compared to the other Irish clubs.

“Ulster will always have a very good set-piece and they have variation now,” Moerat said.

“I think out of all the Irish sides, with all due respect to the other teams, they seem to be a bit more physical, so we are expecting a very physical battle. I think it’ll be a bit more personal for them.”

Stormers team

Warrick Gelant, Suleiman Hartzenberg, Dan du Plessis, Damian Willemse, Leolin Zas, Manie Libbok, Paul de Wet, Evan Roos, Hacjivah Dayimani, Willie Engelbrecht, Ruben van Heerden, Salmaan Moerat (capt), Neethling Fouche, Joseph Dweba, Brok Harris

Bench: JJ Kotze, Leon Lyons, Frans Malherbe, Adre Smith, Ben-Jason Dixon, Marcel Theunissen, Herschel Jantjies, Ben Loader

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