“This weekend is probably the biggest game for us, it’s two conference leaders meeting”
Saturday’s game against the Jaguares is going to be big, that much the Stormers know very well.
After making it three wins from three matches thanks to a dramatic, last-minute 33-30 victory over the Lions at Ellis Park last week, the Stormers will host the Jaguares at Newlands on Saturday in a match that will decide who tops the South African conference after four rounds of Super Rugby.
While he acknowledged the importance of last weekend’s result, Stormers wing Sergeal Petersen, one of the Capetonians’ four try-scorers at Ellis Park, said Saturday’s match is also going to be important for them to assess their progress and to see just how far they have come since the pre-season.
“This weekend is probably the biggest game for us, it’s two conference leaders meeting,” Petersen said.
“I think it will be a good test to test our character and to see how far we’ve come in terms of our structures since the pre-season, and if we can get four in a row that’ll be perfect.” That character was evident for all to see in Johannesburg at the weekend, and it has been in all three games the Stormers have played in 2020. And it’s going to be key against a Jaguares team bursting with an international flavour, Petersen added.
“The Argentines never give up, they’ll keep coming and they’ll be in your face the whole day. They also bring a physical aspect to it, up front and in the backline.
“For us it’s going to be all about character. We slipped a few tries this weekend, so we’re going to have to tighten that up. But if we’re ready physically and mentally, we’ll be fine.”
For another Stormers try-scorer from their game at Ellis Park, Juarno Augustus, their next game is about more than just testing themselves – it’s also about proving a point. Not that the Stormers pack has much to prove, but it’s still a challenge Augustus, who started his first Super Rugby game of 2020 since returning from injury at the weekend, wants his fellow forwards to make the most of.
“I think it’s going to be tough up front, most of them are internationals, so I think we can go out there and try to prove a point by dominating them, I mean we’re also a big pack. So I think we can overcome what’s waiting this weekend,” Augustus said.
The former World Rugby Under-20 Player of the Year has had a tough run with injuries until now, and he is one of the players the Stormers would really hope stays fit this season. But all that disruption hasn’t really affected him negatively mentally, the hard-running No 8 said.
“I’m not going to lie, it was a bit difficult playing at the Highveld again. The last time I played there it was also quite difficult because it was only my second game last year,” Augustus said.
“I’m just grateful for the opportunity to play again. I’ve been struggling with injuries, but I’ve overcome that and I’m just happy to be back.
“It hasn’t really been mentally draining. I have a good support structure in my family and they always encourage me to get back into it and work hard and stay fit. It comes and goes. So mentally it doesn’t really affect me.”