Senatla just needs a bit of space


The Stormers scored 11 tries in the three matches he started since returning from Sevens duty last month. He stayed on the bench for last weekend’s match against the Sharks, and a “second-string” Cape outfit left Durban tryless.

The thing is, though, it’s not only his unbelievable speed and finishing ability that make him such a special player, and the only reasons why the Stormers were desperate to get him eligible for the playoffs.

Senatla’s ability to help secure the ball at the breakdown in the wider channels has been key for the Stormers to recycle quality ball out wide. It was something they struggled with, especially when they played against the New Zealand teams, as some of their outside backs were dominated at the collision and rucked out of the way when they were on the attack.

Senatla’s Sevens backgrounds helps him to compete hard in an attacking breakdown situation, and keep the opposition poachers at bay before the blue and white cavalry arrives. That is very important for a team who wants to strike with a bit of width.

Against a team like the Brumbies, who the Stormers face in their Super Rugby playoff at Newlands on Saturday, that sort of ball security out wide is going to be even more important because the Australians have a big go at the ball on the ground.

But Senatla is also a top one-on-one defender due to his Sevens background, and this will come in handy when he faces some of the big Brumbies backs on Saturday.

“The Sevens has played a major role in my play, especially the breakdown and the one-on-one tackling,” Senatla said this week. “In Sevens, if you miss a one-on-one tackle it’s basically a try. You place so much emphasis on holding on to your man, because if you don’t it can cost you a whole lot of points.

“At the breakdown, only one or two people can secure the breakdown, which has actually increased my skills, because you have to stand your ground and secure the ball,” Senatla said.

But the dreadlocked Senatla is at his very best when he has the oval ball in his hands. Sadly, though, the Stormers haven’t quite managed to give the flyer the type of space to have a go.

He scored two tries in the five-try demolition of the Cheetahs, showing his strength out wide for the first one, and then showing his explosive speed by coming into the line at first receiver from a five-metre scrum for his second.

The Brumbies are very good defensively, but they can slip off the odd tackle against teams who attack them out wide. They missed 16 tackles last weekend against the Crusaders, but they will probably be a lot tighter this weekend, as the intensity goes up a few notches in a knockout match.

Most of the Stormers’ attacking opportunities may come on the counter attack, as the Brumbies like to kick deep. However, the Australian side have a good kick chase, and may make it harder for the likes of Senatla, his fellow winger Dillyn Leyds, and fullback Cheslin Kolbe to have a go from broken play.

But Senatla feels the Stormers can hit the Brumbies on attack if they keep possession.

“Their chase is very solid and they have good first line. The counter-attack may not always be on, but they like to shoot out off the line when they are defending,” Senatla said.

“There might be some space on the sides, and if we can get our width right we can hurt them in the wider channels. I think within general play we can hurt them.

“They do kick a lot and I have to cover a lot more at the back and help Cheslin and Dillyn out. But when we have the ball everything stays the same. It’s just that when we are defending that we look to get back and support Chessie.

“Winning the conference with a game in hand was good for us. We have had good training over the last few days, and we are ready to smash the weekend.” - Cape Times

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