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    Stormers won't look over their shoulders

    2016-04-20 15:34

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - An intriguing battle is developing in Super Rugby's first African conference, where the Stormers and the Bulls are leading the way. 

    The Stormers have been considered the form side in the conference so far, cantering through to the top of the table in the early stages of competition. 

    Like the Bulls, the Stormers avoid of the New Zealand sides in the group stages while the only Australian sides they play away are the Force and the Rebels.

    Having already played the Brumbies and the Sharks at home and the Lions away, the toughest of the Stormers' pool matches - on the surface, anyway - could well be over. 

    It all suggests a relatively easy run to a home quarter-final for coach Robbie Fleck's men, but now there is some resistance coming out of Pretoria. 

    The Bulls are slowly starting to find their rhythm. 

    Having lost just once all season, they have a bye this weekend before leaving for Australia where they take on the Force, Brumbies and Waratahs. 

    Those three weeks are likely to determine how much of a challenge the Bulls can realistically offer against the Stormers in the race for top spot in the conference, but as things stand now they are just one point behind. 

    But Fleck is not overly concerned about the gap at the top closing.

    "No … obviously we watch the games and we know where they are and we watch their growth," Fleck said.

    "But we can’t spend too much time looking over our own shoulders … it’s all about us.

    "They’ve still got to play the Lions and see where they are against them ... we’re just excited about working hard and improving."

    Fleck also suggested that there were still plenty of difficult games left for his side in the pool stages. 

    "The Reds are going to be a challenge and the Waratahs are trying to find a bit of form … they’ve certainly got the quality personnel,"  he said.

    "We’ve got to play the Bulls away so there are certainly enough matches there to prepare for that (playoffs).

    "You’ve got to be ready for that quarter-final but you’ve got to make it first."

    The Stormers take on the Reds at Newlands 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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