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'Reset' for Stormers after being French-fried

REACTION: They may be the United Rugby Championship title holders, but the Stormers needed to do some serious introspection after their debut weekend in the European Cup.


The Cape Town-based franchise host London Irish in a Round Two Champions Cup match this weekend, knowing that another loss will be devastating.

Clermont Auvergne recovered from 11 points down at the break to beat the European Cup debutant Stormers 24-14 at Stade Marcel-Michelin last Saturday.

In contrast, London Irish will be minus influential Argentinean hooker Agustin Creevy, who was banned after being sent off in their Round One loss (27-32) to Montpellier Hérault at Gtech Community Stadium last Friday.

Both teams, the Stormers and London Irish, will be desperate to get their first win in the competition.

Seasoned centre Ruhan Nel said the Exiles are partial to an expansive game – similar to their hosts.

This places defence at a premium, especially after last week’s 16 missed tackles – a success rate of 86 percent for the normally ungenerous Stormers’ defence.


Given the visitors’ appetite for a running game, controlling possession becomes vital.

“We need to eliminate poor kicks and turnovers,” Nel told a media briefing in the build-up to their first home game on the European Cup stage.

Nel added that this week was a good opportunity for the Stormers to ‘reset’.

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“I would much rather learn those lesions now, rather than later in the competition – like the play-offs – and you make those mistakes,” the BlitzBok legend said.


Having experienced Clermont’s famed ‘Yellow Army’ of supporters, he admitted that they will be better for the experience of playing under intense pressure on foreign soil.

“One of the big lessons is the need to play ‘smarter’ when we are under pressure,” he said of the areas they focussed on this week.

He said they are not going to change their approach because of one loss, but pointed to the snowy conditions in France as one of the reasons for the Stormers’ uncharacteristically deflating performances.

“We are very fortunate to play in nice warm weather here in South Africa,” he said, adding: “Even the winter is not that cold.

“It was just one of those games.

“Even our pass quality – transitioning from defence into attack – but there were [some passes] high on the shoulder or low the knees.

“When you start chasing a game there will be mistakes. We do that to other teams as well, get the lead and then our defence smothers them, forcing them into mistakes.

“Those are all fixable.”

The Stormers are also still sweating on the injuries centre Dan du Plessis (whiplash), flank Ernst van Rhyn (MCL) and lock Gary Porter (rib) to injuries was a “big disruption” to the visitors.


* Picture credit: @THESTORMERS

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