Stormers must ‘starve’ the Crusaders



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Starve the Crusaders of possession and be patient on defence. These are the words of wisdom from Stormers fly-half Peter Grant, as he looks forward to his team’s crucial Super 14 showdown with the defending champion Crusaders on Saturday.

There is a lot that count in favour of the Crusaders in this game.

They are at home, where the Crusaders have won 23 straight matches, going back to February 2004. The Stormers have never won against the Crusaders in New Zealand and the Crusaders will feature six of their reconditioned All Blacks.

But Grant, speaking from the team’s base in New Zealand, said there is plenty for the Stormers to be positive about and that the battle is as much about the mental aspects as they physical part thereof.

With impressive (victorious) performances against the Hurricanes and Waratahs in the last three weeks, the Cape franchise now have the belief that they can topple to Crusaders in Christchurch for the first time in three years.

But it will take a very special effort.

“The biggest thing is confidence and the win last week [against the Waratahs] will do us the world of good,” Grant told this website.

“we must take that forward with us. We stuck to our guns last week and we must do that again this week.”

Grant said the team’s now familiar pattern of lose-win-lose-win-lose-win can only be broken if the players stick to the game plan.

“We tend to drift from our game plan at times and [as the players] are the only ones to blame for it.

“It comes down to errors and confidence and hopefully we can build on it from here. We know what the mistakes have been this far, it is now halfway in the competition and surely can fix it from here.”

He admitted that it is a big psychological issue.

“The mental side of it is very important and that is probably our biggest problem.

“The guys are physically fit and healthy and ready. We can throw the ball around and look like the best side around. I definitely think it is the mental thing and we got to get that balance sorted out now and keep it at that level.”

The Stormers fly-half suggested that even with their six reconditioned All Blacks and their consistently high standards, the Crusaders can be toppled if they (the Stormers) just stick to a basic formula.

“Yes, the Crusader are an extremely good, consistent side.

“But we had a good video session the biggest positive to come out of it is that we must stick to our game plan and not drift.

“A lot of times we think of all this flair and want to play exciting Western Province [Currie Cup] rugby. That is not always the best way to go and we to tend to get carried away [with an expansive game] at times.”

Grant said it does not mean the Stormers have to become ultra conservative. They must simply be “steady and consistent” in their approach.

“Against the Crusaders we can only look at our performance against them [at Newlands] last year, when we shocked them.

“From that we know that it is very important that we keep the ball out of their hands and cut down on our mistakes.

“We know what they will do to us on our mistakes.

“We showed against Waratahs [last week], when they tried to come back at us, that our defence was spot on and we really got to make sure we keep that up.

“We have to be patient and stick to our strengths.”

Grant, who missed the first few rounds after coming back from shoulder surgery, said he feels he still needs to work a bit on the “physical” aspects of his own game.

“It is going very well at the moment. But I went a bit of a step back [against the Waratahs] last week … maybe thinking a bit too much about my kicking game and went a little bit off on the physical side. I think I can definitely step it up this coming weekend against the Crusaders.

“But generally things have gone nicely for me and I’m happy.”

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital 

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