Stormers' defence still a worry ahead of quarters

Sun, 16 Jul 2017 06:42

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: While the Stormers did show improvements on attack in their 41-33 win over the Bulls, defence is still a worrying issue for the side from Cape Town ahead of the play-offs.

Robbie Fleck's side conceded five tries during the 80 minutes at Loftus Versfeld in an open game against the Bulls and they will certainly need to tighten up on defence against an attack-orientated Chiefs side in the quarterfinals next weekend.

"I felt that we could have done better defensively, but there were passages where we were quite dominant and we certainly put them under pressure and they did not get the continuity that they would have liked," Fleck told reporters after the match.

"When we were on defence we forced them under pressure and they coughed up the ball which led to our tries, which is a positive going into the quarterfinals.

"There's minimal possession [in a play-off] and it's those turnover opportunities that you create from your defence that can really turn a game and that certainly happened for us today [Saturday]."

The Stormers beat the Chiefs 34-26 earlier this year in Cape Town, but a heavy 21-60 quarterfinal loss to the same opponents a year ago is still fresh in the Cape side's minds.  

"Last year's quarterfinal was 60-pointer, so let's hope it is not that," Fleck added.

"I think that if we tighten up in a few areas, I think it would be a good contested game. 

"The way that we are going at the moment in terms of our attack, we are putting teams under pressure and we are scoring some good tries. 

"The way that we changed our mindset this year is obviously we are playing a lot more rugby, which leads to turnover possession against us. The biggest challenge for us is being able to learn to attack and defend at the same time.

"When we do turnover possession, we got to be able to stop any of their momentum or any of their line breaks that they are getting at the moment.

"You are playing against a quality outfit in the Chiefs. They are a great attacking side and they can put you to the sword on turnover possession, which they did to us in the quarterfinal last year. If we can tighten up on a few areas, I think it would be a good battle out there."

2017 Super Rugby Quarterfinal Draw:
 
QF1: Lions [1] versus Sharks [8]
QF2: Crusaders [2] versus Highlanders [7]
QF3: Stormers [3] versus Chiefs [6]
QF4: Brumbies [4] versus Hurricanes [5]
 
Quarterfinal Match Schedule (all times local):
 
Friday, July 21: Brumbies v Hurricanes, Canberra - 19:35
Saturday, July 22: Crusaders v Highlanders, Christchurch - 19:35
Saturday, July 22: Lions v Sharks, Johannesburg - 14:30
Saturday, July 22 Stormers v Chiefs, Cape Town - 17:00
 
Semifinal Draw:
Pre-determined draw as follows (highest ranked team to host):
 
SF1: Winner QF1 v Winner QF4
SF2: Winner QF2 v Winner QF3

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