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Stormers in for a 'Test match' against Euro Champs says Dobson

REACTION: The Stormers Director of Rugby John Dobson admitted he finds himself in a tricky position following his team’s hard-fought 13-7 win over Ulster in the United Rugby Championship Round 13 clash.

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The Stormers were far from their best and struggled to find their rhythm in the first half of the encounter at the Cape Town Stadium.

Trailing 0-7 at the break, it took a 75th-minute try by Evan Roos to hand the Capetonians the crucial victory and move them closer within the top four with 39 log points.

Speaking to reporters after the match, Dobson admitted that their unfancied Irish opponents outwit them in the first half and his team were caught off guard.

He pinpointed that the defence was the main area of concern.

“To be honest I was a bit stumped,” Dobson said when asked about the the first 40 minutes.

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“The way they kept the ball. I could see why because we are a transition team, but when we turned the ball over, we were so tired from defending.

“Physically, we were amazing. We kept smashing them in double tackles. But when we got the ball, we just hacked it away or kicked it out.

“To be honest I did not have a plan. However, we tweaked our defence at half-time. It was a lesson for us.

“What gave us hope was that we were great physically on defence, but it was tough.”

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‘Different creature’

Dobson’s men produced a much better show in the second half.

They dominated territory and possession, while the introduction of Springbok prop Frans Malherbe in the 55th minute gave them ascendancy in the scrums.

Malherbe earned a scrum penalty, that Manie Libbok successfully kicked over for their first points of the game.

They created a few try-scoring chances, but handling errors overshadowed their attack. They eventually utilised their maul, which saw Roos power over the line for the five-pointer.

Dobson admitted he was frustrated with his team’s inability to score.

However, he revealed the way the team grind in the second half and managed to secure a win is great preparation for next weekend’s Champions Cup Round of 16 clash against La Rochelle.

The last time the two teams met was in pool stages in December when the Stormers recorded a late 21-20 win over the defending European champs thanks to a late Libbok conversion.

“[Saturday’s match] will be very helpful for next week. It will be a different size of creature coming,” Dobson said.

“At least we were playing Stormers rugby in the second half.

“It’s just frustrating to leave so many tries out there. It will be great preparation, but those first 20 minutes were tough.”

Dobson added: “Selection will be a challenge. We have to analyse how the centre combination worked, loose forwards and only one of the tight heads can start, so it is a problem fitting all these guys in.

“It’s a chicken and egg situation, do you choose to stop La Rochelle, by picking your most physical guys, or do you think you can break them open, which might require something else?

“It’s going to be a Test match next week. They are one of the best club teams in the world, better than most Test teams. They would be in the top 10 of World Rugby’s rankings without any stress.”

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