Champions Cup last 16: Stormers sticking to snazzy style as hard-running Harlequins come to town

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Champions Cup last 16: Stormers sticking to snazzy style as hard-running Harlequins come to town
Champions Cup last 16: Stormers sticking to snazzy style as hard-running Harlequins come to town

Africa-Press – South-Africa. The Stormers have played some of the best rugby in Europe this year, and, while style isn’t everything, that has put them in contention on two major fronts this season: the United Rugby Championship (URC) and Champions Cup.

Under head coach John Dobson, who has imbued his players with the “Cape/Western Province way”, the Stormers’ combination of devastating counter-attacking, lung-busting support play and accurately-timed kicking has set tongues wagging.

It’s a style that took them to last year’s URC title – the defending champions are second on the log behind Leinster this season – and they are not keen to abandon their natural instincts for the Champions Cup last 16 clash against Harlequins at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

Flyhalf Manie Libbok, who conducts the entire Stormers orchestra, said they would not alter their way, despite facing hard-running Andre Esterhuizen and the like in the London team.

“We obviously will [play the way we have all year],” Libbok said.

“We don’t need to change anything because the way we play covers for every opportunity we get on the field.

“It’s just a matter of taking the right option at the right time and obviously getting that balance right between running and kicking.

“That’s the most important thing for us, especially now in the business end of the competitions. We’re not going to go away from who we are and how we play. We’re going to stick by it.

“It’s just going to come down to decision-making and getting that balance right.”

The Stomers’ backline assistant coach, Dawie Snyman, echoed the Springbok’s message, adding that they would take some heed of what Harlequins bring, but not to the extent of overhauling their DNA.

“We understand our own game and we know the building blocks to our game and that’s the first thing we’ll look at,” said Snyman.

“We need to make sure we get that right. If there’s pressure points in their game that can put our game under pressure, we’ll have to make sure that we get that right on the day.

“We’ll obviously look at Harlequins as a team and what they bring but we’ll focus on ourselves. Like Manie said, we’ve got a certain way of playing that everyone understands.

“But it’s building blocks. We’re not just going to go out and not make sure we have our foundation right to make good decisions and play exciting rugby.

“That’s what we want to do, but we still have to get a few things right before we get to that.”

Kick-off on Saturday is at 16:00.

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