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Dan du Plessis in action during the United Rugby Championship match between the Stormers and Lions in Cape Town last Saturday. Picture: COLE CRUIKSHANK/GALLO IMAGES
Dan du Plessis in action during the United Rugby Championship match between the Stormers and Lions in Cape Town last Saturday. Picture: COLE CRUIKSHANK/GALLO IMAGES

The Stormers will be up against arguably the best organised defence in the United Rugby Championship (URC) when they meet Glasgow Warriors in the quarterfinals at Scotstoun Stadium on Saturday.

Glasgow have been warriors in defence, with their try line breached just 35 times this season. They boast the best defensive record in the URC if tries conceded is the metric.

The Stormers are a team who have built much of their competitive edge around uncompromising defence. In seasons past they stood accused of relying too heavily on their defence, but John Dobson in his previous role of head coach has been keen to extend their repertoire in his quest to bring a smile to the collective face of their fans.

The Stormers are particularly potent from broken play, but in the try-scoring charts the Warriors have also outdone them this season.

As a head coach, Franco Smith has always extolled the virtues of attack, though he will be quick to argue his Warriors team is a better all-round package than they were a year ago.

“Glasgow have stepped it up a notch in attack since Franco has taken over. They’ve played attractive rugby at times and also showed they’ve got what it takes to win big games,” noted Stormers centre Dan du Plessis.

The Warriors will, however, have to strike a fine balance in a knockout match, even if it is at home. The Stormers, as evidenced against the Lions, have the ability to dig deep when they have to.

“They have shown in the past three weeks how resilient they can be,” said Dobson. “We are battle-hardened and keen to go on the road. Just like Munster did last year,” he said about the previous season’s winners. “We are excited by this trip.”

The Stormers’ four defeats on tour in the initial part of the season left them with near irretrievable ground to make up on the points table. They have lost just one away game since, and Du Plessis was keen to highlight their form on their most recent trip abroad.

“We had a successful tour, winning two out of two, where we’ve maybe struggled in the past not touring as well as we should. We took a lot of confidence and lessons from those games and it was important to come home and solidify that against a strong Lions team that had it all to play for.

Damian Willemse was a big loss for the team; any team would miss a player of his quality. But the guys who have slotted in, whether it be at 12 or 13, have done a good job and shown their versatility
Dan du Plessis

“It was a step in the right direction on the last tour to prove to ourselves we can do it away from home as well and we’re looking forward to what is going to be a good quarterfinal in Scotland.”

Du Plessis argued the Stormers can take much from their win over the Lions, in particular the need for better discipline.

“Going into a quarterfinal in Glasgow we cannot afford to be giving so many penalties away and you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you do that in a playoff game.”

The Stormers will go into the match without the creative thrust of Damian Willemse, but Du Plessis believes they still possess enough backline star power to get the job done.

“‘Gaza’ [Willemse] was a big loss for the team; any team would miss a player of his quality. But the guys who have slotted in, whether it be at 12 or 13, have done a good job and showed their versatility,” he said.

Between Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Wandisile Simelane and Jean-Luc du Plessis “there is a lot of versatility in the backline and that’s not mentioning the others. For myself, it has been important to be versatile, especially this season after losing Ruhan Nel early on, and now Damian.”

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