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Robbie Fleck © Gallo Images

Stormers want to apply same recipe

After the DHL Stormers outlasted the Blues at Newlands last year the opposition coach Tana Umaga used the word relentless to describe the Cape team’s play and Robbie Fleck says the former All Black won’t be disappointed if he expects more of the same on Saturday.

The Stormers and Blues face off at Newlands at the weekend in almost precisely the same scenario as they did last season. Back then it was later in the year, with the two teams clashing in May rather than March, but it was also after the Stormers had just returned from an unsuccessful tour of New Zealand.

The Stormers needed to win, as they do now, in order to get their season back on track after they had lost their way following a promising six win start. For much of the game it was nip and tuck and the two teams were hard to separate after 60 minutes. But one thing remained constant, according to Umaga, and that was the relentless way the Stormers just kept coming at his men. In the end the dam wall broke and the Stormers drew away in the final quarter to win comfortably.

It does not happen often that a South African team outlasts one from New Zealand and the caveat that needs to be added to Fleck’s promise that his side will use the same recipe this time is that half his team have been sick in bed this week. A debilitating flu virus has plagued the Stormers since their week in Dunedin and that surely has to impact on energy levels and ability to be strong in the last stages of the game.

Fleck though should have been encouraged by the signs of good conditioning that were shown overseas.

“If Tana said we were relentless last year and that is what he expects in this game then we won’t disappoint him as that is exactly the recipe we intend applying this time,” said Fleck.

“We did outlast them last year and we will be aiming to do the same again. I was very pleased with our conditioning in New Zealand and I think the way we finished both of those games (in Christchurch and Dunedin) was encouraging. In both matches we were the stronger right at the end, and that is not something that happens often against Kiwi sides. We have made great strides in our conditioning. To be strong in the last 20 against Kiwi teams in their own back yards is encouraging.”

Apart from the small matter of the flu and the long flight home from Dunedin via Sydney on Sunday, however, there is something else that Fleck is very aware of. The Blues are a much improved unit on the one that played in Cape Town last year, and given the way they came back to beat the Lions late in the game at Emirates Airlines Park last weekend, there isn’t much wrong with the Blues conditioning either.

“The Blues are just a vastly improved side all around and I think it is going to be a cracking game at the weekend,” said Fleck.

“The Blues are much more structured than they were before. Tactically they are a way better team. They had the ability to run when they had to before, and they could really hurt teams when they go that right, but now they have added a good tactical kicking game. They are varying their play and controlling and managing the game much better than they did.

“They can now slow the game down when they have to, they know when to kick for position. They showed their ability to score tries in the last 20 minutes at Ellis Park and that will be a huge positive for them. The Newlands game will be a cracker.”


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