Stormers expect a ‘Battle Royale’



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The Stormers may have just come off an impressive 16-10 win over the Waratahs in Sydney, but they know it will require a huge “step up” in intensity and skill to achieve a similar result against the defending Super 14 champions, the Crusaders, this week.

Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe, who is hoping his team will end their sequence of ‘lose-win-lose-win-lose-win results, said motivation this week is not an issue.

“The guys know they are playing against the top team in the competition – last year’s winners,” Van der Merwe told this website.

“Added to that, their [World Cup conditioning] All Blacks are also back. So there certainly won’t be a lack of motivation.

“No doubt it will be a ‘Battle Royale’ this,” the Stormers coach said.

Having already done his “video analysis” of the opposition, Van der Merwe readily admits there aren’t any weaknesses in their make-up.

“They are such a well balanced team, they can play any type of game on any given day.

“The big thing is that you simply can’t afford any turnovers against them, as they proved against the Bulls.

“You also can’t afford any mistakes – their kicking out of hand, their goal-kicking and their counter-attacks from turnovers are deadly.”

The key for the Stormers is to ensure they get quality possession from the set pieces and then control the ball.

“You have to protect it like gold, because they can really hurt you with turnovers.

“They are very solid on defence, they are very patient on defence and concede very few penalties. They wait for their opportunities and when they turn the ball over they will hurt you.”

Van der Merwe said despite last week’s win over the Waratahs in Sydney, there is plenty of room for improvement in the Stormers’ attack.

“There were moments of great play – where we took the ball through 10 or 12 phases – against the Waratahs. However, there remains room for improvement.

“We need more depth on attack, our positioning from second and third phase possession is nowhere near where we want it to be and our reaction time needs to improve.

“Our defence against the Waratahs was good, we missed only 11 tackles, but we know this week it will have to improve even more against a team that is very physical, play well with the ball in hand and offload very well in contact.”

The Stormers don’t have too many injury worries, with outside back Corne Uys – who damaged his pectoral muscle against the Waratahs – the only doubtful starter.

A final call on his availability will only be made later in the week.

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital 

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