How Stormers can 'break down' Bulls
Tue, 09 Jul 2013 19:50
They did not get to be No.1 by fluke
Matching the Bulls physically is important, but there are other ways of achieving success against Super Rugby's pacesetters.
While the Stormers have had success in the past by brutally beating up the Bulls, they will look to break down the Pretoria outfit in a different manner when the sides meet at Newlands on Saturday.
There are vastly different goals for the two outfits.
The Bulls are chasing a win that will see them finish top of the Super Rugby table for the first time since their back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. The Stormers, who have already lost the South African conference trophy to their arch rivals, will be determined to salvage some pride from a bitterly disappointing campaign.
And the Cape Town outfit hope to spoil the Bulls' party by getting the better of them at the breakdown.
Stormers forwards coach Matthew Proudfoot, speaking to this website ahead of the big north-south derby, admitted that physicality will play a role.
However, he said the reason for their four-match winning streak has been their improved breakdown play.
"Since we have returned from [the Australasian] tour [in mid-May] we have put a lot of work into our breakdown," Proudfoot said of their wins for the Reds, Cheetahs and Kings (twice).
"We have really been trying to speed it [the breakdown play] up, given the structured defence that teams are employing.
"Teams, like the Kings, Cheetahs and Bulls all have a fantastic defence," Proudfoot said, adding: "We are trying to speed up our breakdown, so we can get quicker ball - that is something we have been looking to improve upon."
He said they have also focussed on getting more accuracy in each department.
"The [Stormers] coaches have focussed heavily on the aspects in each department that needed work," the Cape outfit's forwards coach said.
"If you want to compete with the teams that are No.1, No.2 and No.3 in the competition all the departments of your game have to be spot on - we have focussed on improving our accuracy."
Proudfoot said there will not be any charity from the Stormers towards the Bulls, even though a win by the visitors on Saturday will be of to the benefit to South African rugby.
"What is indicative of the South African conference is the intensity of the games," he said, adding: "No game is ever meaningless.
"You can look at all the South African games in the last few weeks, they have all been very heavily contested and no one game was 'just another match'.
"There is still a lot of pride at stake, irrespective of what the points table holds for the different SA teams."
Proudfoot said accuracy will be vital on Saturday, as the Bulls can punish your mistakes.
"We are playing the No.1 team in the competition and they are not there by fluke, they are there because they have been playing the most consistent rugby through the tournament.
"The consistency of your execution of the set phases, of the defence, of the break-down and of the kicking game have to be spot on.
"Then, also, the physicality challenge they do bring, when they look to pressurise you and force you into errors, that is the other crucial factor.
"If you marry those two factors together, then you'll be able to compete with them. If one of those factors falters you, you will be in a very poor position."
By Jan de Koning
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