Stormers’ defence not unbeatable

Hawies Fourie says the Cheetahs have worked out an effective way to breach the Stormers’ defence.

The Stormers are the best defensive side in the competition. They have only conceded 51 points and four tries in their five games while the Crusaders, the second-best defensive side, have conceded 103 points and eight tries.

This will pose a problem for the Cheetahs, who place a lot of emphasis on an expansive game plan. The Bloemfontein franchise have struggled to protect their possession at the breakdown after putting several phases together, which could open doors for Schalk Burger and Francois Louw to contest for the ball and win turnovers.

However, assistant coach Fourie said there are structures in place to solve this problem when they visit Newlands on Saturday.

‘We have picked up the reasons why the Stormers have been so well organised on defence,’ Fourie told keo.co.za. ‘Their players get back onto their feet quickly after making the tackle. If they realise they don’t have an opening to steal possession, they leave the breakdown and spread wide. This maintains their numbers in defence.

‘We will have to rely on our strike runners to suck in their defenders, but at the same time commit enough players to the breakdown to retain our ball. The less numbers they have in their defensive lines, the more gaps for our attack to target. Momentum in attack will be vital if we want to win.’

The Cheetahs haven’t been consistent on defence this season. They leaked too many tries against the Bulls and Highlanders, but impressed against the Sharks and Hurricanes.

‘Defence will play a big part too. We will need a balanced performance,’ said Fourie. ‘The guys just need to remain mentally strong. I’m sure they will all be fired up come Saturday.’

An interesting match-up will see inexperienced centre Robert Ebersohn facing Springbok Jaque Fourie.

‘Robert has shown he can play at this level after a good performance against the Hurricanes on his debut,’ said Fourie. ‘Jaque has also been out of form this season. He had a blinder against the Hurricanes, but was not up to his standards in the previous fixtures, especially against the Brumbies.

‘In that game, he was solid on defence but did not do enough on attack and dropped too many passes. But I’m sure he will come out strong against us this weekend.’

Meanwhile, with Heinrich Brüssow out, Hendro Scholtz and Kabamba Floors have been promoted to the match 22. This sees Ashley Johnson, who was one of the Cheetahs’ big finds last season, dropped to the Free State Vodacom Cup team.

‘Ashley is struggling with form at the moment,’ said Fourie. ‘We decided to give him game time in the Vodacom Cup side. He’s been playing there for the last two weeks.

‘Hendro is the suitable replacement for Heinrich, while Kabamba will play off the bench. We think that’s his best role, he is a potent player in the last 30 minutes.’

By Gareth Duncan