Vodacom Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe said after their sublime victory over the star-studded Blues, complacency could be their biggest threat when the Cape franchise tackles the Reds at Newlands on Saturday in a Vodacom Super 14 scrap.
The Stormers have been very inconsistent this season and could not win two games in a row yet. The team supporters are hoping they could pull it off this weekend and then put the cherry on top by accounting for the Sharks – also at Newlands – next Saturday.
The Reds are really battling this season and shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for Van der Merwe’s team, but he was wary about them when discussing the game on Thursday.
“I said to the guys the biggest threat this week is the complacency issue and we shouldn’t underestimate the opposition. If you look at the games they’ve played you will see they can play and make no mistake, against the Cheetahs they kept the ball for long periods of time,” explained the former Border and Griquas coach.
“You can see the difference between the Sharks game – the Sharks beat them comprehensively – and the Cheetahs game. It was that the Cheetahs totally underestimated the Reds.
“They thought they could run from anywhere and then just made mistake upon mistake, whereas the Sharks kept their structures well and built their innings quite significantly and also took their points when it was on offer to them. That was the difference between the two approaches.”
He said the Stormers should take a leaf out of the Sharks’ book. “Certainly the approach we’ll have to follow – especially if the weather is not in our favour – is to be patient and not to think we could just have a go from anywhere because they are a weak team.
“They have some quality players there and we got to understand that we would have to be at our best to beat them.”
The expected wet weather and the Reds’ front row problems have played a role in the decision to start with a full front row – comprising Shalk Ferreira, Schalk Brits and Eddie Andrews – on the bench, said Van der Merwe.
“I just think it was an ideal opportunity to bring Eddie Andrews back (after his injury). We do have Gerrie Britz at lock who can cover loose-forward. It was a choice between Eddie and Robbie Diack and we just thought it was a good opportunity for us to give Eddie some game time.
“They’ve got probably all four their top props out. They have been battling there this year. We will try and target them there and try and disrupt them. They say there is a 60 % chance of rain and with that in mind it might suit us to have two props on the bench.”
The coach said their record at Newlands was something the squad was proud of. “We’ve only lost one game at home, to the Force. Apart from that we have a good record here. We will be trying to uphold that in the last two games.
“It would be great to finish the competition with only one loss at Newlands. There was a fantastic atmosphere here last weekend with the crowd. One of our goals is also to make Newlands a fortress again.
“Teams who come here should know it’s going to be difficult to beat the Stormers here”.
Vodacom Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Jean De Villiers, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Brent Russell, 10 Peter Grant, 9 JP Joubert, 8 Joe Van Niekerk, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Gerrie Britz, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Eddie Andrews, 19 Francois Van Der Merwe, 20 Bolla Conradie, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Corne Uys.
Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)