Expect 'no mercy' for capricious Lions
The Stormers are determined to ‘bank’ as many points as possible in the United Rugby Championship, before the next round of their European Cup campaign comes around.
Having moved to the top of the South African conference, the defending URC champions now face the Lions at home on Saturday, December 31, before heading abroad to face Glasgow at Scotstoun a week later.
With home games being “non-negotiable” for the ambitious Cape Town-based outfit, Stormers coach John Dobson is also targeting a good haul in Scotland.
“If we get those two right [win both], we will be in a really good position,” Dobson said.
After the Scottish trip, the Stormers face London Irish (away, January 15) and Clermont (at home, January 21) in Euro Cup outings.
Their next batch of URC matches will see them play Ulster (at Ravenhill, January 27), Sharks (Durban, February 3), the Bulls (Pretoria, February 18), the Sharks (Cape Town, March 4) and Leinster (Dublin, March 24).
Dobson suggested that he may well consider resting some of his key players for the March period if there is enough points in the bank.
“We may be a bit more circumspect around selection,” Dobson said.
“We need next week,” he said of a win over the Lions.
“A trip to Leinster and a trip to Ulster is tough.
“If we get ourselves in the right position we would start getting creative [with selections] and leave some players at home.
(Article continues below …)
Dobson, looking at the Lions, described the domestic derbies as ’10-point games’, because of the South African conference situation.
“These are important games because of the eight or 10-point swing on the standings,” the coach said.
The Bulls will be determined to make up for the weekend’s loss in Cape Town when they face off against the Sharks in Durban on New Year’s Eve. Another loss will leave the Bulls with considerable ground to make up on the Stormers in the battle for the South African Shield.
Topping the local conference, five points ahead of the Bulls and with a game in hand, a win over the Lions will see them keep the pressure on the chasing pack and complete a calendar year without having a loss on their home ground.
Ironically, the last time the Stormers lost in Cape Town was against Lions, on December 3 last year.
Dobson said that while the Lions may have lost badly to the Sharks (10-37) this past weekend, they remain a threat.
“If are a young side, but if they keep their team together they will be really good.
“Jordan Hendrikse is a special playmaker.
“They [the Lions] fight really well.
“The game is not going to have the same hype or interest as that against the Bulls, but it is going to be a good game.
“We will have to motivate ourselves intrinsically, rather than being motivated by the occasion or the opposition.”