Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Stormers are dreaming of the big time ahead of Exeter showdown

The Stormers will have to be at the top of their game if they want to emerge from England with another win.

The Stormers are already dreaming of reaching the final of the Champions Cup ahead of their massive quarterfinal clash with Exeter Chiefs in England over the coming weekend.

The Stormers picked up a decent 32-28 win over Harlequins in their last 16 clash at the Cape Town Stadium over the past weekend, while Exeter triumphed on tries scored after a thrilling 33-33 draw with Montpellier went to extra time.

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Both sides will thus be pumped up and ready for the clash, but it is the Stormers who have found a weird way of visualizing to inspire them even more ahead of the match.

“Dobbo (coach John Dobson) shows us a photo in the meetings with a Stormers v Toulouse Heineken Cup final (written on it). That’s something we work towards, we want to go as far as possible in the tournament,” explained Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff.

“To be honest, these guys will go out fighting every weekend and try to go all the way and get the cup. It’s similar when it comes to the URC. We will keep fighting all the way.”

Kitshoff also believes that being in the Champions Cup will help the national side improve, as the South African players become more accustomed to the styles of play that they are coming across in the competition.

“If you look at the rankings, the number one and two (in the world) are Ireland and France. These are teams you get to play against in the Champions Cup,” said Kitshoff.

“The more frequently you play against these teams, the more you start to understand their style of rugby. In the bigger picture, us as South Africans playing in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s a big benefit looking at our international season as well.”

Top of their game

Looking at the quarterfinal clash the Stormers will have to be at the absolute top of their game if they want to emerge from England with another win and progress to the semifinals.

In their last 16 match against Harlequins they put in a very professional showing to lead 32-7 going into the last five minutes, but then fell asleep and allowed the visitors to run in three late converted tries, which they can’t afford to do in the coming match.

However Stormers coach John Dobson admitted that he wasn’t worried about the lapse in concentration, saying what happened over the rest of the match was more important.

“We were very good, absolutely superb. Everything went according to our plan. A lot of people will talk about the last six minutes, but this Harlequins team has come back and beaten Bristol from 30 points down. They have beaten a lot of teams like that. The game was well won by then,” said Dobson.

“Our plan was to defend very well, which we did. When I say we are happy with the performance, I don’t mean to say that we thrashed Harlequins. They are a good team. They never go away, as we saw in those last few minutes.”