Young guns hungry to take Stormers forward
SUPER RUGBY REACTION: The Stormers produced their best performance of the season without some of their big names.
After defeats to the Hurricanes, Blues and the Reds on tour, the Stormers were missing experienced forwards Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Chris van Zyl and not many pundits were giving them a chance to knock over the Rebels in the own backyard.
However, they pulled off a surprise 41-24 win and it was a group of young guns in the pack that helped lay the foundation for victory at AAMI Stadium.
The lock pairing of Cobus Wiese and Salmaan Moerat (both 21) and loose forwards Juarno Augustus (21), Kobus van Dyk (24) and Ernst van Rhyn (21) all put in big performances on Friday.
Jaco Coetzee (22) was also prominent in the physical exchanges before he left the field with a suspected knee injury.
The Stormers were outstanding on defence and at the breakdowns against the Rebels and it was the pressure that they asserted in those areas that rocked their opponents.
The players mentioned above were key to getting that right.
Augustus also proved what a devasting ball carrier he is with ball in hand and he scored one of his team’s five tries.
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“It is tough losing key players, but I think the young guys came through, like Ernst who was making his debut,” said Steven Kitshoff, who was captain for the match.
“They were playing such good rugby and making such a good impact. It was just incredible to watch and to have that presence on the field.
“You know that they are just giving there all for the full 80 minutes.”
Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said his team were “threatening this entire tour to put in an 80-minute performance”.
“Things went our way and the passes stuck, but it was an outstanding defensive performance,” said Fleck.
“We knew what the Rebels are capable of on attack and we put them under pressure through our defence and our work rate and the boys certainly tackled for each other and worked hard off the ball and that created the opportunities for us.
“It was a good clinical performance from us.”
Key to the Stormers’ victory was their ability to take Quade Cooper and Will Genia out of the game.
“They were our big focus during the week and just the way that they played, we put a huge emphasis on our defence this week.
“We knew that they were the real threat and the whole gameplan revolved around them. We knew we had to get off the line and put them under pressure.
“We felt that if we could do that the turnovers will come our way and that is where the opportunities came from,” Fleck added.
By Warren Fortune