The DHL Stormers will travel to Port Elizabeth this weekend to take on a fired-up Southern Kings team in their own backyard, and coach Allister Coetzee is expecting a tough outing in the windy city.
The Kings have shown a steely resolve their first year of Vodacom Super Rugby and they will be eyeing a first-ever victory over a fellow South African franchise when the teams go head-to-head at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 17h05).
“One shouldn’t read much into their performance against the Bulls last week and expect to just pitch up and take the points,” warned coach Coetzee earlier this week.
“It’s the last home game for them – it will be a packed stadium – and with them having beaten a New Zealand and Australian side, they will put all their eggs in this weekend’s basket to make sure they beat a South African franchise for the first time.
“There is no walk in the park in Super Rugby – you probably do that on a Sunday. This is a quality Kings side; they are the best mauling side in the country at the moment. They score the most mauling tries, so how can they be a walk in the park? They have an accurate goalkicker in Demetri Catrakilis, whom we know well, so discipline will be very important.
“We are under no illusions, this is going to be one massive game,” added Coetzee, who announced a team showing just one change from last Saturday’s 28-3 win over the Cheetahs.
“That is how we have mentally prepared and by making sure we respect them by knowing our detail and making sure we get it right, otherwise it will be a long day at the office.”
Inspirational forward Deon Fourie, leading the team in the continued absence of Jean de Villiers, will once again line up in the back row and he backed up his coach’s assertion of the Kings being a tough nut to crack.
“In all South African derbies patience is important and the team that make the least mistakes win. Especially with Omar (Mouneimne) there, their defensive coach, they have shown they are powerful on defence and (on) attack.
“We have a lot of confidence in our mauls. It’s something we work hard on and pride ourselves on but in the case of playing the Kings, who have scored the most tries in the competition from mauls, the focus is on defending the maul… it’s going to be a challenge,” said Fourie.
The Stormers are in 10th place on the Super Rugby log at present, but they still have a mathematical chance of finishing amongst the top six at the season end – should they pick up bonus point victories and if other results go their way over the next fortnight.
Coetzee, however, is not worrying about any talk of four-try bonuses or potential play-off permutations, insisting that victories are the key during their final two weeks of league action.
“Our philosophy has always been to win the game first (and foremost),” said Coetzee, when asked whether or not the Stormers would be chasing a four-try bonus point in PE. “It’s not something you really look for (from the outset), you have to build an innings first. If you build an innings I’m sure towards the end of the match you will put yourself in a position to look for that (bonus point).
“If you are in control of your own destiny it’s one thing, but if you have to look at permutations it’s out of your hands, so we focus on what we need to do,” concluded the Stormers boss.