Stormers face crunch game against high-riding Sharks
Durban team’s victory over Jaguares puts pressure on Western Cape team, says coach John Dobson
Stormers coach John Dobson sees Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Sharks at Kings Park Stadium on (3.05pm kickoff) as a conference-deciding and possibly season-defining game.
The Sharks, beaten once in six matches, sit atop the overall standings on 20 points, three clear of their coastal rivals whose four-game winning start to the competition was ended last time out as the visiting Blues cruised to a 33-14 victory at Newlands.
The Cape franchise enjoyed a bye last weekend, and will no doubt arrive in Durban fresh and ready to give a Sharks side hitting all the right notes a run for their money.
“It’s a massive game for us,” said Dobson. “It’s funny how the world can change quickly. In terms of the conference, in some ways, it’s a vital game in terms of what happened in last week’s conference clash between the Sharks and Jaguares [won at home by the Sharks].
After Saturday’s match against the Sharks, the Stormers play the Jaguares in South America.
“They [the Sharks] have already toured so it’s a conference-deciding, potentially season-defining game for us.”
It will certainly be a season-defining next two weeks for Dobson’s men if they end up losing their next two games.
The Capetonians will need to be at the top of their game that so far has centred on their Springbok-laden pack, which has been robbed of the services of captain and No 8 Siya Kolisi and hooker Bongi Mbonambi by long-term injuries.
The Stormers are also without World Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit who suffered a thigh injury in the loss to the Blues that will cause the flanker to be sidelined for at least the next five weeks.
The Sharks have thrilled friend and foe with their 15-man brand of quick-tempo rugby and will look to change nothing other than be a tad more clinical in the score zone.
New coach Sean Everitt has transformed the class of 2020 into a mean machine that has operated at full throttle from the opening whistle. They could well have kept a clean sheet had it not been for overexuberance at times from forwards and backs that caused silly mistakes and cost them points.
But who can fault the players who have clearly forged a close bond as seen by the way they gang up to celebrate with the try scorers and sharp plays.
The Sharks’ Japanese-style of playing has been an outstanding feature. .
A ferocious pack, a rush defence and an accurate kick-chase game may once again deliver the goods over a Stormers side that has yet to realise its potential.
The way the Blues manhandled them on their home field without much resistance is something the Stormers Cape Town will want to avoid, because if they fail to pitch they will be eaten alive in the Shark Tank.