Vodacom Stormers still eye semifinal berth

PUBLISHED: April 5, 2007

The Vodacom Stormers still have their eye on a semifinal berth in the Vodacom Super 14 and coach Kobus van der Merwe describes Saturday’s game against the Lions as a watershed.

The two teams meet at 17:00 at Newlands in the Stormers first match on home soil after an arduous five-week trip to Australia and New Zealand.

Van der Merwe on Wednesday said it was good to be back and added that particularly the fifth week was very long. He said two wins from five games was a reasonable return.

“One always wants better, but we said before the tour if we won two and pick up a few bonus points it would be a good result,” he explained.

“In hindsight I think we threw away the game against the Highlanders. That was a game we could have won and atoned for the one that we lost at home against the Western Force.

“If you look at the bigger picture, we were one short from where we wanted to be.”

Now the last leg of the Super 14 campaign lies ahead. Many people would write off the Cape franchise’s hopes of reaching the playoffs, but Van der Merwe is optimistic that his charges could surprise and achieve what looks like the impossible at the moment.

They are 12th on the Super 14 points’ table, with 14 points after 8 games. An unbeaten run plus a few bonus points and favourable results in other games are what is required if the Stormers want to be there at semi-final time.

“The last leg obviously is important for us. We have four games at home and a very difficult one away against the Bulls. It is nice to be at home again.

“Saturday’s game against the Lions will be a watershed for us and the Lions if we want to retain the mathematical chance of reaching the playoffs.

“The team that is fifth on the log (the Brumbies) has 22 points, so the gap is not too big. We definitely still aspire to play in the semis,” said Van der Merwe.