Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Stormers target perfect finish to the year in home clash against Lions

If the Stormers claim the win expected of them, they will have gone through the entire 2022 calendar year in the URC unbeaten at home.

Despite a brilliant 37-27 bonus point win over the Bulls in Cape Town last week, the job is not done for the Stormers as they now target the perfect finish to the year with a home win over the Lions in their United Rugby Championship (URC) fixture on Saturday.

The match is a significant one for the URC defending champs who will be eager to cement themselves at the top of the SA conference and seal a perfect home record for the year in the process.

Last season it was a surprising 37-19 home loss against the Lions in December that sparked a Stormers revolution which saw them bounce back and power to the title, but they will be hoping for no such upset this time round.

If the Stormers claim the win expected of them over their SA rivals, they will have gone through the entire 2022 calendar year in the URC unbeaten at home, which will be a brilliant feat.

“We have gone over 360 days since that game unbeaten, but now we need that Lions game to make it the whole year (unbeaten in Cape Town). That’s really important to us,” said Stormers coach John Dobson.

“It will add a bit into the game because it’s the last one of the year against the team that really beat us convincingly in December last year. That will be a big driver for us as a coaching group this week.”

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With the teams now in the middle of a tough holiday season run of fixtures the Stormers know that they will have to eventually rest their players, particularly their Springbok stars who have had a heavy year.

The next round of the Champions Cup is also coming up in a few weeks and Dobson is hoping for a couple more URC wins before he looks to rotate his squad and give some players deserved time off.

‘A really good position’

“We have to get through this week with the Lions in town. That’s a non-negotiable. Then we have Glasgow,” Dobson said.

“If we can get those two right, then we are in a really good position. Then we might be able to say to ourselves that we can be more circumspect around selection. If we get through the next two rounds, then we will start being creative.

“Trips to Leinster and Ulster are tough. If we get ourselves in a good position, we can give some guys off. We know full well that we will undo the good of last week (beating the Bulls), if we don’t follow it up with a good performance (against the Lions).”

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