Stormers aim to finish on a high
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says Saturday’s derby against the Bulls remains a vital clash despite his team being out play-off contention.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says Saturday’s derby against the Bulls at Newlands remains a vital clash despite his team being out play-off contention.
The top six teams were confirmed at the weekend, with the Stormers just missing out in seventh place after a strong finish to their campaign that has seen them win their last four matches on the trot.
The Bulls, having already sewn up the South African Conference, will have no lack of motivation as a win in Cape Town would guarantee they hold on to first place on the log after this weekend’s final round of the regular season and would secure the Pretoria outfit home ground advantage throughout the play-offs.
According to Coetzee, his charges will be up for the challenge against their old rivals and will be looking to maintain their momentum heading into Western Province’s Currie Cup campaign.
“A North/South derby is always a big game, it doesn’t matter that there’s no pressure or that you’re playing for academic reasons. There’s a lot of pride at stake and we want to finish on a high,” Coetzee said on Monday.
“It’s massively important for us to win this weekend. We’ve only lost to the Crusaders here [at home] this year and we lost to the Bulls at Newlands in 2011, so we’d like to finish on a high and carry that momentum into the next competition.
“A winning culture is so important so we want to get it right, continue improving what we worked on and stay on that upward curve.”
Coetzee conceded that the Bulls have been in ominous form during the second half of the regular season but said their focus will be on their own gameplan instead of what the Bulls will bring to the table.
“The Bulls have done well and have been a successive franchise for years but the focus for me is not to look at the Bulls. We need to keep the focus on us and how we need to prepare,” he said.
“There’s still room for improvement … it was the first time in a long time that we had such good continuity on attack [against the Kings]. We had plus 100 ball carries, got through nine phases five times and four plus phases 18 times, it’s just disappointing that we couldn’t finish those opportunities.
“We’re very disappointed that we left so many tries out there - we had two opportunities at line-out time which we didn’t take. It’s not 100 percent there yet but it’s something we can improve on and will look to improve on this weekend.”
Coetzee said there will be an added focus on tactical awareness this weekend.
“We need to be accurate with our kicking game this weekend because the Bulls will come with a massive kicking game. We need to handle the box kicks and the high kicks from Morné Steyn and Zane Kirchner. It’s something you know is coming but it’s another thing to handle it,” he said.
The Bulls will be without two of their key line-out jumpers on Saturday, with captain Pierre Spies out injured and long-time line-out general Juandré Kruger having left for France.
Coetzee, however, said that doesn’t necessarily mean they will target the line-out as a potential weakness.
“[Grant] Hattingh has been calling the line-outs well, Flip van der Merwe is a good line-out exponent and Dewald [Potgieter] can jump so they will have enough options and they will have a very good plan because Victor [Matfield] understands the importance of set-piece and line-outs.”