An epic battle awaits
Sport24 columnist Peter Grant (File)
I’m the type of person who doesn’t enjoy sitting still at the best of times so my current ankle injury is rather frustrating. To add to that I’m an extremely nervous spectator - the sooner I’m back on the field the better.
I tore ligaments in my ankle during my 20 minutes against the Chiefs. At this stage, I reckon a realistic timeline on the injury will be a return to action halfway through our Australasian tour.
Looking at the Stormers’ season as a whole, our opening two fixtures were disappointing from everyone’s perspective. We simply made too many mistakes. I believe that a return to the basics has seen us enjoy back-to-back victories.
Turning to the Brumbies clash, it’s obviously a pleasing game to review owing to the positive result. While I felt we still made a number of errors and our kicking out of hand wasn’t great, which offered the Brumbies great attacking opportunities, we pitched up with the right attitude and the forwards had an outstanding game.
Another pleasing aspect was the fact that we scored four tries against a solid Brumbies defence. They had previously conceded just two tries from four matches.
We were criticised a lot last season for not scoring enough tries. We placed a higher emphasis on attack in the 2012 Currie Cup and it again came to the fore against the Brumbies. We showed some real flashes of brilliance and intensity on attack.
Last year we were very defence orientated in training and this season I feel we have spent more time on our general attack and have been afforded a bit more freedom to express ourselves. Robbie Fleck deserves credit in this regard.
I believe that executing effectively on attack is down to decision-making. We simulate that area of play as much as we can in training and the more we practice the better we’ll become.
Elton Jantjies was certainly exciting on the weekend and it’s clear to see that he continues to grow. He made two vital contributions which led to tries and has improved on defence. It’s great having youth in the side, his energy is really impressive. Off the field his head is screwed on and while still only 22, he has already acquired plenty of experience.
I’m well aware that this is a team game and am happy to provide back-up at flyhalf with Elton in the current form he is. At the Stormers, we are fortunate in that we have the depth and versatility in personnel to juggle our team according to different strategies and opposition. For example, this past weekend Dewaldt Duvenage was utilised as starting scrumhalf with Nic Groom adding impetus from the bench.
While it was a great win over the Brumbies, we now have to put it behind us and focus on the formidable opponents we face this Saturday - the Crusaders.
We are well aware of the quality side we are coming up against and are also cognisant of the fact that Newlands has become something of a happy hunting ground for them owing to the amount of support they generate.
The Crusaders are generally slow starters, but like us have now built up momentum owing to consecutive victories. They may be missing key players in Kieran Read and Dan Carter, but they remain a highly competitive side.
The men from Christchurch certainly don’t possess many weaknesses. They are a well-balanced side.
What makes them so dangerous is that they are unpredictable and capable of doing anything on the day. They are a real threat in broken play and don’t tend to be as structured as the Brumbies.
When we played them in Christchurch last year we outscored them by two tries to one, but let ourselves down with ill-discipline and by conceding too many penalties. We have to focus on not giving them anything for free, because they are patient and clinical.
The setpiece battle will be key on Saturday evening. I believe that the game will be won or lost upfront with the forwards.
We will have to match the Crusaders physically, which is something I believe we are well capable of doing. De Kock Steenkamp and Andries Bekker are really coming into their own.
Against the Brumbies our forwards did the hard yards and we were solid on defence. It promises to be another top performance this Saturday. I’m backing the Stormers to win 28-18. Peter Grant, a veteran of 88 Super Rugby games, debuted for the Stormers in 2006 against the Cats.
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