Home Sport Stormers’ modified game plan gave them the edge against Leinster

Stormers’ modified game plan gave them the edge against Leinster

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On Saturday, whenever they won a penalty within kicking distance of the poles, flyhalf Manie Libbok would set his aim for the uprights instead of the touchline as was the norm in the past.

Manie Libbok of the Stormers is tackled by Sam Prendergast of Leinster during the United Rugby Championship 2023/24 game at Cape Town Stadium on 27 April 2024. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix

Leighton Koopman

The Stormers have made a mindset shift to adapt their attacking game plan by creating a scoring buffer between them and their opponents before running rampant with their dangerous backline.

It worked wonders against Leinster during their United Rugby Championship (URC) clash in Cape Town on Saturday as the hosts claimed a 42-12 win, and it is something they will deploy against other teams in the rest of the tournament.

On Saturday, whenever they won a penalty within kicking distance of the poles, flyhalf Manie Libbok would set his aim for the uprights instead of the touchline as was the norm in the past.

Captain Salmaan Moerat explained the thinking around it, saying it was important for them to come out of their opponent’s half with points when they are dominating, especially to build up a double-score lead.

That, in turn, will then give them the buffer as their opponents chase the game and it becomes more open for their attackers like Libbok, utility back Damian Willemse and fullback Warrick Gelant to find space and manipulate it.

This plan worked its magic against a Leinster defence coached by former Bok head coach and defence guru Jacques Nienaber.

“Our conversion rate in the 22m area was a topic (beforehand) and we would love it to be a bit higher,” Moerat said.

“Before the (Leinster) game, I spoke to Manie and our principal thing going into the next few games is that we want to come out of the 22 of other teams with some sort of points. The boys worked hard to get into those positions, and we wanted a two-score lead. When we got it, we could apply some pressure.

“For a team’s morale, it is very important to get some points. You could be playing some really good rugby, but if the scoreboard is not ticking over and it is in your favour, it (the good rugby) doesn’t matter.

“That is the mindset we will go into games with for the next couple of weeks.”

Moerat added they are excited for the challenge of the next two games overseas.

They come up against the Dragons in Newport next weekend, after which a tricky trip to Galway for a clash against Connacht awaits. The Stormers will have to win both to stay in the hunt for a possible home quarter-final and a spot in the top eight of the URC.

“This is a must-win tour. We’ve never had anything like this before. So it will be nice to see how that goes.

“We have our Boks back. They were not with us during the previous tour (where the team lost all four games). It helps to have calm heads around you.”

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