The significant support the Kiwis enjoy in Cape Town isn’t going to get the Stormers down when they host the Blues at Newlands on Saturday (kick-off 3.05pm). In fact, assistant coach Dawie Snyman says they’re looking forward to the atmosphere.
The Stormers made it four out of four with their 17-7 home win over the Jaguares at the weekend, a game in which they conceded their first try at Newlands in 2020.
The Blues, on the other hand, come off a narrow, and rare, 23-21 away win against the Bulls after a late penalty conversion won them the game after the siren had gone. And considering everything, the Stormers – top of the combined standings – should be overwhelming favourites to claim the Round Five date.
But Snyman isn’t expecting it to be too easy against the Blues…
"You can see they worked on their set-piece a lot, they’ve got a good scrum, one of the bests in New Zealand. And they’ve got a new kicking game. It’s not like in the past where they would kick instinctively and off the cuff, you can see they’ve got a real plan now and they want to put you under pressure. They’re also well structured on attack and defence and they want to put their runners into space. They’re a well-coached side," he said.
"It’s going to be a tough challenge.
While it’s the steel nerves of flyhalf Otere Black that can rightfully claim the most glory for their victory at Loftus, their next venue in South Africa, Newlands, will no doubt be a friendlier one for the New Zealanders.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to Snyman.
"At Newlands they’ve got big supporters, but it’s going to be good to play in front of fans, even if they aren’t all for us, and to get that atmosphere with the two teams going at each other."
The unbeaten Stormers, who kept the Hurricanes and the Bulls scoreless at the start of the competition and had an 18-15 lead going into the break at Ellis Park, could only manage 3-0 at half time against the Jaguares at the weekend. And getting points on the board and making use of their chances on Saturday is something that the Stormers coaches certainly want to see more of.
"We got into their 22 and didn’t convert in that first half, which was a bit frustrating. Not taking anything away from the Jaguares, they really defended well inside the 22, but with all the pressure we built up, we made mistakes and didn’t really build it up," he said.
"We didn’t go too hard today, just because of the physicality of the weekend. We just wanted to get the guys really fresh to make sure that we have a good session tomorrow (today) and in Wednesday."