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    Stormers embrace cup final mentality

    2016-05-27 10:20

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - The Stormers are all out of chances, and they simply have to win the rest of their Super Rugby matches this season if they are to secure top spot in Africa 1 and a home quarter-final. 

    The Cheetahs await this Saturday, followed by dates with the Rebels and Force away before a season-closing clash against the Kings at Newlands. 

    The Stormers, South African Conference champions in 2015, seemed to be cantering to the playoffs just a few weeks ago.

    But losses to the Waratahs and Bulls either side of a 17-17 draw in Singapore against the Sunwolves have left coach Robbie Fleck and his men with quite a bit to do.

    With the Bulls ever-improving and the Sharks and Lions picking up points regularly over in Africa 2, the playoff race is extremely tight and there is no longer any room for slip-ups.

    "Obviously we want to win every game but certainly that pressure is there now," Fleck said in the build-up to Saturday's clash at Newlands.

    "It’s closer than what we would have liked but it is what it is.

    "Every week now is important … it is sort of cup final stuff for us now but certainly we’re not going to lose sight of what we started and where we’re going.

    "We’re not going to get too distracted by the extra pressures of winning every game. There is enough there that we are going to keep building on." 

    Captain Frans Malherbe acknowledged that things had not gone according to plan over the past month. 

    "Obviously it's not ideal ... the last three weeks' results," said Malherbe.

    "I see this break coming up as a massive positive. I think we can focus entirely on this week and the guys can get a nice rest. 

    "The competition is quite tough and it's been long now. We can focus entirely on the Cheetahs." 

    While things may be tense at the moment, the Stormers can at least take comfort in the fact that they still have their fate in their own hands. 

    Four wins would almost certainly guarantee them a spot in the playoffs - either via winning the Conference or through the wildcard position. 

    "I'm not trying to think too far ahead," said Malherbe.

    "It's about this week and the processes and the preparation and getting the result on Saturday."

    Kick-off is at 15:00.

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    Fixtures

    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 23 February 2018
    • Highlanders v Blues, 08:35
    • Rebels v Reds, AAMI Park 10:45
    Saturday, 24 February 2018
    • Sunwolves v Brumbies, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium 06:15
    • Crusaders v Chiefs, 08:35
    • Waratahs v Stormers, Allianz Stadium 10:45
    • Lions v Jaguares, Emirates Airlines Park 15:05
    • Bulls v Hurricanes, Loftus Versfeld 17:15

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