Can Stormers break play-off hoodoo?
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Stormers go into their Super Rugby quarterfinal clash against Chiefs with a poor record when it comes to play-offs. Warren Fortune reports.
The Cape Town side has won just one play-off match from eight in their entire Super Rugby history so far, which was a 25-6 victory over the Waratahs way back in 2010 when the tournament was still in its Super 14 guise. They then went on to lose the final 17-25 to the Bulls.
In the old Super 12 tournaments, the Stormers lost in the semifinals in 1999 against the Highlanders at Newlands and in 2004 against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
In 2011, which was the first season of the 15-team format, the Stormers were beaten 10-29 by the Crusaders at Newlands in the semis and a year later the Cape side got knocked out at the same stage against the Sharks (19-26) at Newlands after they finished on top of the overall standings.
More recently, the Stormers were hammered 21-60 in the last eight against the Chiefs at Newlands last year and a year before that the Stormers lost to a travelling Brumbies side 19-39 in the qualifying finals.
"We are not going to think about that too much," said Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck.
"We just got to do what we are doing at the moment and it is what it is in terms of the history. We've struggled in quarterfinals, we haven't won them, but this is a new team, a new campaign.
"We just got to focus on us and not worry about the pressures of winning a quarterfinal at home.
"We actually spoke about the same thing last year in the press conferences and amongst the team. Everyone brings it up - the Stormers don't get through.
"We will get through this time - that has got to be our focus. That's what we believe in as a group and we know that there are pressures, we know that the fans want us to progress and there is a lot of pressure from critics on us in quarterfinals, but we can't dwell on that. We just got to keep focussing on what we got to do this weekend."
The Stormers have already played the Chiefs this year with Fleck's side bagging an impressive 34-26 victory in Cape Town.
"There were lots of positives from that game. We got a few things right in that game and they certainly did exploit us in one or two areas
"We always got to look back and learn from previous games, but this [quarterfinal] is a one-off. They've got some big players back and they are a near full-strength side - so are we - so we are certainly looking forward to it.
"They certainly will be up for it. They showed what they can do at Newlands a year ago, but we showed what we could do a couple of months ago. We got to take a lot of belief and confidence from that performance and take that forward into this game," Fleck added.
By Warren Fortune