Stormers’ defence intact ahead of Chiefs clash

Sun, 02 Apr 2017 06:54

REACTION: Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck praised his side's impeccable defence after their 53-10 win against the Cheetahs at Newlands.

A hat-trick of tries from Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Dillon Leyds' brace helped the hosts record their fifth consecutive victory.

Despite scoring eight tries to Cheetahs' one, Fleck was more impressed with his side's defence as they took a 22-3 lead at the half-time against a woeful Cheetahs side.

"The tempo, the urgency, the support play was outstanding and offloading just came at the right time. It could have gone horribly wrong, but I think it was just one of those days where everything sort of stuck.

"The biggest positive was our defence.  

“The defence was big work-on for us during the week and we knew the Cheetahs were a good attacking team, but we handled it really well. We did put them under pressure and didn’t allow them to attack," Fleck told reporters.

Cheetahs could have scored a second try in the dying minutes but Cheslin Kolbe's tackle - which led to Henco Venter spilling the ball over the try-line - made sure Fleck's troops end the match on a high note.

Commenting on Kolbe's tackle the mentor patented it as the 'moment'.

"I think that was one moment that changed everything, it just showed that never say die attitude of the side.

"It is a good feeling as a coach to see how the players rallied around him afterwards. To see that unity amongst them just showed where we are currently," he said.  

The Stormers face a stern test this week when they take on their first New Zealand opponents the Chiefs at Newlands – a repeat of the 2016 Super Rugby quarter-final.

Chiefs and Crusaders are the only others among the 18 in the competition to have won all their matches this year.

The Chiefs match will be the start of a tough run of fixtures, which includes the Lions (home), Crusaders (away), Highlanders (away), Hurricanes (away) and Blues (home). There is some reprieve with a bye between the Hurricanes and Blues matches.

Fleck said that the Cheetahs' clash has indeed prepared them for what to expect, but admits the Chiefs' results will truly reveal how they have improved.  

"The Cheetahs stretched us, they asked a lot of questions in terms of our defence. It was probably the highest tempo that we faced thus far.

" It’s a good test for us heading into the Chiefs’ clash.

"We still have a lot of work-ons, and this week will be the ultimate test of how far we have come. We certainly have improved since last year but you can only really judge yourself when you face the best,"

Meanwhile, Jano Vermaak left the field in the 14th minutes with a concussion. The scrumhalf - who just recovered from a calf injury - was escorted to the hospital. The extent of his concussion will be confirmed once they have been properly assessed.  

By Leezil Hendricks
@leezil07
@rugby365com

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