Waratahs wary of stuttering Stormers

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“Once you win a premiership or something like that, you want to try and stay on top, not just do it the one time,” the Wallabies fullback said.

“That’s probably an even bigger challenge than winning it the first time, and that’s the hunger that I think this group has.

“We want to strive to achieve that.”

The Waratahs appeared to have fallen victim to second-year syndrome, the apathy that often besets teams after a title run, when they commenced their campaign with a home loss against the Force, the Perthians’ only win to date.

Perhaps the loss against their Western Australia rivals is what whetted the appetite for another championship because the Waratahs have since won four out of five matches.

The most recent was a 23-11 romp over the Blues at the Allianz Stadium in round seven and, fresh from last week’s bye, the Waratahs will be eager to extend their run of consecutive wins against the Stormers to three for the first time in competition’s history.

The Sydneysiders only needed one try to win 22-11 at Newlands last year, but that Stormers outfit allowed an average of fewer that two tries per match, while the current unit has leaked 11 tries in three straight losses.

“I wouldn’t say (the Stormers defence) is going to be the test for us,” said Waratahs defence coach Nathan Grey.

“They’re a strong defensive side but they’re not the strongest defensive side in terms of (stats) this year – you’ve got the Brumbies and the Chiefs leading the way there.

“The Stormers have started to run the ball a bit more,” noted Grey. “I don’t know who is driving it but you can certainly see that they’re changing the way they play.”

Captain Duane Vermeulen was one player who would have driven the percentage tactics that helped the Stormers to a 4-0 start to the season.

He has been sent home from tour for a two-week rest in the wake of 25-20 reverse against the Hurricanes, and Juan de Jongh is expected to lead the Stormers out on Saturday.

“They’re a very physical side and even though Vermeulen is not playing they’re getting back De Jongh, so you lose a bit somewhere but you gain a bit somewhere else,” said the Waratahs defence coach.

“The Stormers played very well against the Hurricanes last week and were a little bit unlucky in not being able to get a result there, but they have a lot of firepower across the park, they have good skills and we’re very much aware of that.

“They’ve got a good, young group of players in there, guys who are trying to play their way, and play really well at this level, and that’s exciting for them and dangerous for us.

The Stormers are scheduled to name their team tomorrow. - The Star

Original source: Waratahs wary of stuttering Stormers

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