Stormers vow to hit Waratahs fortress
May 10, 2013
Stormers winger Bryan Habana says his side must improve its completion rate in attack © Getty Images
New South Wales Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has warned his side to guard against an attacking backlash from the smarting Stormers in Saturday night's Super Rugby crunch match at Allianz Stadium.
And Stormers superstar Bryan Habana is promising one.
With both sides precariously placed mid-table, victory is non-negotiable, with the losers of the pivotal round-13 encounter facing extinction from the play-off race.
Much of the pre-match talk has centred on how the attack-minded Waratahs will crack the Stormers' renowned defensive wall, but neither Cheika nor Habana see it quite like that.
The Waratahs piled on 11 tries in a 70-point obliteration of the Southern Kings last outing in Port Elizabeth, but the Stormers have only conceded 11 five-pointers all campaign. Cheika, though, says the Tahs would be committing rugby suicide if they ignored Stormers' danger men across the park.
"If I just think they're a defensive team, they'll axe us," he said on Friday. "I know how it works. You focus on that - how do we beat their defence - and next thing they're running tries through you. A lot of people have spoken about their reputation in defence and it's obviously very good. You can tell by the numbers. I actually look a little more at guys like Habana and (Juan) de Jongh and (Gio) Aplon, Jean de Villiers. Like ... they're pretty potent attacking weapons. (Duane) Vermeulen, the hooker (Deon) Fourie. They've got some serious attacking weaponry."
Cheika said it was imperative the Waratahs persisted with the ball-in-hand style he's been developing for six months.
"The temptation will always be to kick in behind because the space is there. But we can't do that. We're not ready to do that stuff yet," he said.
Habana admits the Stormers are frustrated by the lack of reward for their attacking intent this season and the former world Player of the Year is vowing to personally help last year's tournament finalists break the shackles.
"If I can play my part, not only as a leader but as a contributing factor, we'll start clicking," the wing king said. "And when it does, you'll see some good work from us. Over the next couple of weeks we're going to need some extra bonus points. We're going to rely on our defence to give us opportunities on attack but we've got to be a lot more harsh on ourselves in terms of our completion rate on attack. When you've got the likes of a Gio Aplon, a Jean de Villiers, guys around you who are playing at a great level, we've got to use those guys effectively."
Cheika said the Waratahs' standing five points adrift of the top six should remove any chance of complacency after last week's rout.
"I'm not delusional about a scoreline," he said. "Whether we win by a point, lose by a few or win by a bigger margin, everything went right that day. We had a good day, but it's well and truly over now. It means nothing for this game. Absolutely zero."