Stormers target set pieces

Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe has told that his side have to win the contest at scrumtime and in the lineouts if they want to secure a second consecutive win in the Vodacom Super 14 against the Blues.

Van der Merwe admitted the Blues lineout was an area of weakness, and that he felt the Auckland side would target the Stormers in the scrums and look to disrupt first phase possession.

“We’ve looked at their last four or five games, and they’re exceptionally good at counter-attacking. Therefore we’ve told Naas [Oliver] to ensure our tactical kicks go out. Also it will give us a chance to compete in the lineouts, an area they are not strong in.”

Van der Merwe denied that the Stormers will fall back to a conservative, safety first strategy and will look to involve their backline as often as possible.

“We want to dominate the set pieces, but that’s not where the game ends. When the opportunities arise, the guys have full license to run, especially the back three. The Blues are a better side than the Force, though, so we cannot make the same errors we did last week.”

The press across New Zealand are giving the Stormers no chance of downing the Blues, a fact that Van der Merwe believes counts in the Cape side’s favour.

“It does count in our favour. We haven’t performed to expectations, and after they’ve just beaten the Bulls – who are regarded over here as the best South African side – a look at the log suggests we will be easy beats. They expect a routine win and the public over here certainly doesn’t regard us as a big threat, which is fine.”

By Chris Hewitt