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VIDEO: Stormers activate play-off mode for Leinster

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Don’t expect a low-risk safety-first approach when the Stormers take on Leinster in the United Rugby Championship Round 15 clash on Saturday.

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The Stormers will be eager to bounce back following their defeat to Ospreys last weekend at Cape Town Stadium.

The loss was the Capetonians’ first URC home defeat of the season and a major setback to their top four ambitions with just four rounds remaining until the play-offs.

The Stormers are in sixth place on the URC log and tied with the Ospreys on 40 points.

Another defeat for the Stormers on Saturday, coupled with a win for the Ospreys against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, will leave them in danger of dropping out of the eight.

It is certainly unfamiliar circumstances for the back-to-back URC finalists, who in previous seasons were hunting a top-two or three finish.

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Fronting the media Stormers defence coach Norman Laker and loose forward Marcel Theunissen admitted they can’t afford to lose anymore as they prepare for their season-defining period.

This Saturday the team take on log-leaders Leinster in Cape Town, before a two-match tour to Europe (against Dragons and Connacht). They then conclude the round-robin phase against the Lions.

“Every single game that is coming now is basically a play-off game,” the Stormers’ defence coach Laker said.

“We need to be at 100 percent for every single game. We can’t focus on what happened in the past, we just have to look forward.

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“We want to make sure we end as high as possible on the URC log and secure our spot in the Champions Cup next season.

“We were a point away from getting into the top four so it will be disappointing if we don’t make it into the play-offs.”

Theunissen added: “Coach Dobbo [Stormers head coach John Dobson] always said every game from now on is our most important game.

“So our preparation must be like it is play-offs and that mentality must be evident in our performance for the next four games.”

The unexpected 21-27 defeat to the Welsh side has raised a few questions, with the lack of accuracy on attack being at the forefront.

It must be noted that the Cape Town franchise created loads of try-scoring opportunities. However, they were guilty of forcing offloads, which allowed the visiting Welsh side to feed on their mistakes.

Laker admitted there were a few costly mishaps. However, he revealed the team will not sway from their distinct offload game.

“We have spoken about it. That is who we are and that is what makes us different from any other team,” Laker said.

“If we going to take it away from the guys then we the same as any other team.

“Our option-taking with offloads was maybe not always at the right time. But we are definitely not going to get into our shells and be someone that we are not.”

Laker explained: “Stormers attack coach Dawie [Snyman] has spoken to the guys about the communication.

“Sometimes you get overexcited and I am carrying the ball and for example, Marcel sees a hole in the defence and he shouts for me to offload the ball instead of telling me there’s a hole but there’s also a defender there so rather set up the ball and set up another phase.

“In the past games, the decisions went in our favour and we were standing under the poles clapping hands and smiling at each other. This time it wasn’t the same. We went for it but instead of celebrating a try and a 7-0 lead we ended up conceding the try ourselves and suddenly found ourselves down 5-0.

“So there were a few lessons we learned, which was good. Not the defeat, but the lessons.”

Loose forward Theunissen, who will earn his 50th cap for the Stormers in Saturday’s clash with the URC log leaders, reiterated the off-loading game is part of the team’s unique identity.

“It is in our DNA and that is who we are,” Theunissen said.

“We are not going to change it. Rather just be more decisive and see when it’s on or not.

“We want to play rugby for our supporters and the way we play rugby they enjoy. So we won’t take it away from the guys.

“We just have to make better decisions in certain areas of the field.”

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