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Stormers' win sets tone for epic North-South derby

REACTION: The Stormers’ win over the Sharks in Durban was a perfect teaser for what is in store when the Capetonians travel to Loftus Versfeld to take on the Bulls in a fortnight.

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The Stormers extended their winning streak over fellow South African opposition teams to 15 matches after they beat the Sharks 25-21 in a United Rugby Championship Round 10 encounter in Durban on Saturday.

The side’s last defeat to a South African team was against the Lions in 2021 at the Cape Town Stadium.

They are sixth on the overall log with 30 points, while they boosted their chances of retaining the Shield for the third time.

The Stormers are currently at the summit of the South African Shield table and will face the Bulls on March 2 at Loftus Versfeld.

The Bulls, who recorded a win over the Lions on Saturday,  are second on the overall log and second in Shield with 35 points.

“The win was important in terms of hosting anything later on in the tournament,” Dobson told reporters in Durban.

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“It was also important for us to stay in touch with the Bulls. We both secured four log points.

“So it’s a teaser for an absolute epic match in two week’s time.

“There will be alot in that game, a lot of passion and I presume a very full Loftus.”

Dobson said that the Stormers will be at full strength for the showdown against the Bulls as the World Cup-winning Springboks, including Frans Malherbe will be up for selection.

‘A little bit iffy’

Reflecting on the 25-21 win over the Sharks, Dobson lauded the performance of the Stormers youngsters.

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Dobson had to field a young centre combination in the form of Suleiman Hartzenberg and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, while 23-year-old Jurie Matthee was at flyhalf.

Nonetheless, the trio fared well against the Sharks backline, sporting World Cup winners Jaden Hendrikse, Makazole Mapimpi and captain Lukhanyo Am.

Feinberg-Mngomezulu slotted two crucial penalties and created his team’s opening try.

“It is really nice that we can have that sort of depth,” Dobson said after the match.

“However, I still feel a little iffy because I did not see the Stormers defensive DNA.  We were not making the reads and were not getting off the line.

“I have to give credit to the Sharks.  They played well, they never stopped coming.  If we didn’t turn over that lineout at the end, I thought we would be under pressure. If they got that maul going, penalty five yards and they would’ve won the game.

“Defensively we were off. Strategically and tactically, there were some really good performances from some of the second-string players.”

The coach admitted his criticism of the defence might be too harsh, but could not hide his disappointment.

“It was almost like we didn’t work hard enough to get off the line. At first, we thought [Hartzenberg] was not making the reads because normally we would make the big reads.

“But the challenge for [Hartzenberg] was he couldn’t get off the line because the forwards weren’t there on the inside, so we won’t come around and that made us lose the physical battle.

“I don’t know what was going on today.”

The coach added: “We were lucky to get away with it.”

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