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    Pieter-Steph channelling darker Bok days at Stormers

    2019-02-22 14:23

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - The Springbok class of 2016 and 2017 knew all too well how tough rugby can be when results are not going your way.  

    The Allister Coetzee era is one that South African rugby fans will not remember fondly. 

    Under Coetzee, the Boks lost to Italy, lost 57-0 to the All Blacks in Albany and were hammered 38-3 by Ireland in Dublin. 

    The Springboks won just 4 of their 12 Test matches under Coetzee in 2016 and by the end of his tenure they had slumped to 6th in the world rankings. 

    Rightly or wrongly, Coetzee was eventually sacked as national coach at a time that is considered one of the darkest in recent Bok history. 

    He did recover to 7 wins from 13 in 2017, but by then the decision had been taken to replace him with Rassie Erasmus. 

    One man who was at the heart of the Coetzee era is Pieter-Steph du Toit, who played in 24 of the 25 Test matches under the then-coach. 

    Like many around him, Du Toit put his body on the line week after week for the Boks but was on the receiving end of some horrible results. 

    His tears last year when the Boks triumphed over the All Blacks in Wellington provided images that South Africans will remember for a long time yet, and it was a moment in which Du Toit and his team-mates finally came out on the right side of a battle against the 'old foe'. 

    The Stormers could do with one of those big wins on Saturday. 

    Having been pummelled into a 40-3 loss at the hands of the Bulls at Loftus last weekend, attention now turns to Newlands for a date against the Lions on Saturday. 

    Robbie Fleck, like Coetzee at the Boks, is under the pump.

    He takes comfort, though, in the likes of Du Toit and Eben Etzebeth (on the bench for Saturday), who have experienced the lows and highs of international rugby. 

    "It's good to know that the sun is going to come up the next day," Du Toit told media at Newlands this week.

    "I've been in situations like this before.

    "It's nice to see how everyone reacts differently and I think everyone reacted in a good way this week.

    "Everyone started Monday with a meeting and said everything they needed to say. We bought into the plans and came up with new plans, so I think that's something I've experienced in the past. It worked then, and I think it will work again."

    That will be music to Fleck's ears. 

    The Lions have competed in the tournament final for the past three seasons and are coming off an impressive, hard-fought win in Buenos Aires against the Jaguares. 

    If the Stormers are going to pull off a surprise victory, they will need their key men like Du Toit and Etzebeth to deliver.

    "It's about getting dominance in everything that we do, especially on the set pieces," Du Toit added.

    "We need to get over the advantage line on attack and, on defence, stop the momentum. If we can do that then it will be a good day."

    For Fleck, who insists that he is not feeling any added pressure, this is an opportunity to restore a sense of calm to Newlands. 

    "We were well beaten by a side that was clinical in what they did and we've had to pick up the pieces," he said of the Bulls match.

    "The challenge is there and now the boys need to step up and face that challenge."

    Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:15.

    Teams:

    Stormers

    15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak

    Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Joshua Stander, 23 Dan du Plessis

    Lions

    15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Elton Jantjies 9 Nic Groom, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith

    Substitutes: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Sti Sithole, 19 Rhyno Herbst, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Gianni Lombard, 22 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 23 Sylvian Mahuza 

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    Fixtures

    Saturday, 23 March 2019
    • Hurricanes v Stormers, Westpac Stadium 08:35
    • Waratahs v Crusaders, Sydney Cricket Ground 10:45
    • Sunwolves v Lions, Singapore National Stadium 12:55
    • Bulls v Chiefs, Loftus Versfeld 15:05
    • Sharks v Rebels, Jonsson Kings Park Stadium 17:15
    Sunday, 24 March 2019
    • Reds v Brumbies, Suncorp Stadium 07:05
    Friday, 29 March 2019
    • Hurricanes v Crusaders, Westpac Stadium 08:35
    • Waratahs v Sunwolves, McDonald Jones Stadium 10:45

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