Stormers’ backs must join party

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Allister Coetzee and his team feel that if they had taken their chances against the Hurricanes last week they would have come away with more than just a losing bonus point. They feel that if they limited their mistakes they wouldn’t be in the midst of a three-match losing streak.

However, not taking their chances is not something that has suddenly crept into their game. It’s an aspect which has frustrated the Newlands faithful for the last few years. And you have to ask yourself if the current crop of backline players in the Stormers set-up are capable of putting teams away when their pack has laid the foundation.

Certainly, in their last three matches, there has been no evidence to suggest that they can make use of good, quality ball, at least not like a backline consisting of Jean de Villiers, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana, and Gio Aplon used to do.

Last weekend’s comeback from a 25-3 halftime deficit had more to do with their courageous pack rather than the backs running wild.

This weekend, the Stormers come up against another dangerous backline, which has pace, power and intelligence. The Waratahs can play it up the middle, go wide and they kick with precision and purpose.

The Cape side’s scrumhalf Nic Groom said this week that the backs feel they are close to clicking and capitalising on their packs dominance.

They are certainly not short of talent either, with Damian de Allende playing the rugby of his life, Juan de Jongh right next him and the pocket rocket Cheslin Kolbe at the back. But can they at last take their chances? Coetzee hopes so.

“Last week we played against the best team in the competition, and this week is probably one of the toughest assignments, playing against the Super Rugby champions,” Coetzee told the media from Sydney yesterday.

“But we take a lot of heart from our second-half performance last week. We really dominated the Canes and that is the momentum we would like to build on. We can turn it around.

“Hopefully we can execute, because that is where we have fell short. We have let ourselves down with our ball control. If we get it right, I think we can pull off a win.”

De Jongh is the only change in the Stormers’ backline after missing last week’s match with an ankle injury. The coach decided to keep faith with the halfback pairing who started the last two matches, but flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis will be under pressure to ignite his outside backs.

Up front, Springbok tighthead Frans Malherbe will make his first start of the season to give the sensational Vincent Koch a bit of a breather.

The Stormers won’t lose much in this department, as Malherbe is more than capable dealing with wily Wallaby loosehead Benn Robinson.

The plan is also for the likes of Koch to give the Stormers a massive boost in the second half, as the Stormers have bolstered their bench with lots of bulk.

“It’s time to give Frans a start. Technically he has improved a lot. We are rotating him with Vince. We have a plan with players making that impact off the bench, with Bongi, Jean Kleyn and Siya to provide that firepower to the pack,” Coetzee said.

Siya Kolisi dropped down to the bench to accommodate Nizaam Carr at No 8, as Duane Vermeulen will be rested for the rest of the tour. Michael Rhodes comes in at No 7 to give the pack some “balance”.

Coetzee, though, isn’t concerned that Vermeulen’s absence will affect the team that much.

“We have to have Nemo in the team as a specialist number eight,” Coetzee said. “I think Nemo has improved, but he still isn’t where he was last year. But he is a good player and he will get there by playing and not just coming off the bench.

“Duane is a Category A player and we have to rest him for four games. We have got five homes games coming up and I would like to have my captain when we run out at home.

“It’s not going to change irrespective of the situation we are in. We still have a good group of players that can do the job.” - Cape Times

Original source: Stormers’ backs must join party

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