The Free State side have had a bit of a bi-polar season, regularly mixing the beautiful with the ridiculously awful. They have only won three matches so far this year because of this, and also because they don’t really have the depth in their squad following a few big-name departures in the off-season.
Yet, they remain an unpredictable rugby team capable of surprising anyone on their day.
We look at five things the Stormers must do to avoid a slip-up in Bloemfontein.
Attack the Cheetahs' scrum
The Stormers have got one of the best scrums in the competition, while the Cheetahs have struggled to gain ascendancy in this department. The Cape side put unbelievable pressure on the opposition’s feed, and have the most tight-heads in Super Rugby. Last week, most of the Newlands faithful went dilly when the Stormers reversed years of scrum heartache against the Bulls, as they shoved the Pretoria side all the way back down the N1 to Pretoria. If the Stormers control the ball better when their scrum is going forward in the opposition’s 22, we could actually see a few penalty tries. So, if your son is packing in the Cheetahs’ front row this weekend, I’d advise you to rather finish painting the shed. It could get ugly.
Watch our for their line-out and maul
The Bloemfontein side have a decent line-out. This is the platform they like to use to launch attacks or use their powerful maul to plough forward like a Karoo tractor. The Stormers will have to be smart and determine whether they want to contest the line-out or stand back and combat the maul with a counter shove. Eben Etzebeth has done well in the front of the line-out in terms of contesting, while the Stormers also did well to stop the Bulls’ maul during a crucial stage of last week’s encounter. But the Cape side have a lot of work to do on their own line-out, as it disintegrated last Saturday like Steve Hofmeyer’s career. The Stormers need a lot more accuracy to get their own maul rolling forward.
Attack them with ball in hand
The Cheetahs’ defence is almost as shaky as a golfer’s putter on the 18th green at Augusta on a Sunday. While they have made the most tackles in the competition, only the Sharks have missed more. The Cheetahs are vulnerable when teams run at them in the wide channels, while they lack the aggression and physically that Adriaan Strauss brought to their game on defence. The Stormers should get a solid platform at set-piece time, and they have got to use it wisely to break down the Cheetahs. They need to vary their game and be patient on attack, waiting for a gap.
Give Cheslin Kolbe licence to thrill
There is a sense of anticipation every time Cheslin Kolbe fields the ball.
Kolbe is one of South Africa’s exciting talents, a player who can create magic. The Cheetahs enjoy an open game, and if Saturday’s match does get loose, then there is no better player to take advantage than Kolbe. This kid is electrifying from broken play and doesn’t need a second invitation to counter attack when the opportunity arises. But the Stormers must also try and bring him into the game from set-piece ball. He can be devastating when he takes the ball at speed at first receiver.
Don't kick poorly
The Stormers have to be careful not to kick the ball down the throats of the Cheetahs’ back three. While they won’t have Willie le Roux and Cornal Hedricks this weekend, they have the nimble-footed Clayton Blommetjies at fullback. Former Stormers star Joe Pietersen also likes to roam at the back, and he showed las week how dangerous he can be when he ran the ball back against the Lions. One of those runs led to Johann Sadie’s try. - The Star
Original source: Five things Stormers need to do...