Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Stormers have plenty to work on ahead of URC final

One of their biggest struggles in the semi-final was at the lineout, where the Stormers were unable to hold onto most of their own ball.

The Stormers have some work to do ahead of the United Rugby Championship (URC) final, as they prepare to defend their title against Munster at Cape Town Stadium next week.

Although they enjoyed comfortable wins on the scoresheet in their URC knockout games, beating the Bulls 33-21 in the quarterfinals and Connacht 43-25 in the semis, neither game was a complete performance.

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Against the Bulls, despite largely dominating the match, the Stormers were unable to put their opponents away, with the Bulls staying in the game until the dying moments.

It was more of the same against Connacht as they were stunned by the visitors taking an early lead, before taking control of the match but then letting them back into the contest until two late tries in the final few minutes sealed the win.

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One of their biggest struggles in the semi-final was at the lineout, where the Stormers were unable to hold onto most of their own ball, while they also gave away a lot of penalties which helped the visitors stay in touch with them.

“We respect Connacht for their physicality and their fight was amazing. But I thought we were really ill-disciplined on attack and defence. So that was a bit silly and we kept them in the game,” explained Stormers coach John Dobson.

“Credit to them for fighting but I really thought we should have buried it (the game) just after halftime, but we ended up making it a bit tense.

“That was our worst performance in the lineouts. I think we only won about 50% of our ball today and you can’t play a URC semi-final like that.”

Not critical

Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff was not as critical of the lineout effort, admitting that the late loss of Bok lock Marvin Orie, which saw regular number four lock Ruben van Heerden having to shift to five to make the calls, played a part in the struggles.

“I think with Marvin pulling out (at the) last second and the wind swirling around in the stadium it was a bit tough, but I thought Ruben managed it well and we won a few key lineouts that we needed. So it’s something we will work on ahead of the final,” said Kitshoff.

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The breakdown was another area where the Stormers struggled, missing Bok star Deon Fourie after he was also a late withdrawal for the game, but Dobson said that both he and Orie would be fit and available for the final.

“Obviously we took a bit of a gamble. We could have forced Deon and Marvin to play, and thank goodness it has paid off. You could see we didn’t slow down their ball as well as we normally do and in the lineouts Marvin was missed,” said Dobson.

“The good news is that both are available for the final.”