Semifinal within Stormers’ grasp

PUBLISHED: April 19, 2004

After their breathtaking 51-23 victory over the Blues in Auckland on Friday the Investec Stormers have a realistic chance of securing a home semifinal in the Super 12 – an unexpected bonus for their supporters.

According to captain Corne Krige they need a victory on Friday over the Chiefs, who surprised the Sharks in Durban on Friday night, to make a home semifinal a reality. The Stormers have played in a home semifinal once before, but failed in their attempt to reach the final for the first time.

Coach Gert Smal was a relieved man. Smal, however, refused to get carried away by his team’s five-star performance. “We should not get carried away. Our first goal is to reach the semi-finals. To achieve that, we have to focus on the things we have control over.”

The Stormers are in second position on the log with 28 points after eight games, two behind the log leading Brumbies.

Smal said the Stormers were motivated by the way the New Zealand media wrote off their chances of winning before the game. “One newspaper asked six experts to predict what would happen at Eden Park.

“Not a single one said we would win. That just strengthened our resolve.”

Krige was equally elated. He said the twelve minutes in which the Stormers scored five tries “happens only once in your life”. The tough flanker also said it was one of those days where the ball just bounced right for them on every occasion. “It was one of those days where just about every thing worked for us.”

The former Springbok captain lauded the effort as “fantastic”. He said the bounce of the ball went their way in the first half, but added that’s the nature of the game.

“When you hit those patches you’ve just got to enjoy them. We’ll take the win, take the five points and it will give us confidence over the next few weeks.”

Assistant coach Carel du Plessis cautioned that the challenge now is to maintain the standards of the Blues game. He believes the team may have crossed a critical threshold.

“Hopefully we can now string a few good performances together to secure the points we need for a home semifinal as we have been up and down and played hot and cold.

“Against the Reds we were disappointed with our performance, but happy for the win and on Friday we played a good Blues side and really rose to the occasion.

“It showed we do have the temperament for the big occasion. A win like this does boost confidence in our ability to see it through all the way to the playoffs. And to have it at home would be ideal.”