Rainbow Cup

Dobson credits high intensity training sessions for Stormers' late Ellis Park heroics

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John Dobson (Gallo Images)
John Dobson (Gallo Images)
  • Stormers coach John Dobson believes their late surge against the Lions was due to the high intensity they train at during the week.
  • The Stormers scored 10 points in the dying stages to shock the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
  • Playing "more rugby", and not just being "scrum and maul-based", is reaping rewards for the Stormers, Dobson believes.

Stormers coach John Dobson credits their strong finish against the Lions to the high level of intensity they've put in during training.

The Capetonians claimed a last-gasp 39-37 win in their PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA encounter at Ellis Park on Saturday.

It was a game in which they had trailed for large parts - including 37-29 with less than five minutes remaining - before a strong finish saw them notch their first win in the competition.

The Stormers had suffered narrow home defeats to the Sharks (33-30) and Bulls (20-16) but finally saw the ball bounce their way on Saturday afternoon.

"We've had a couple of tight ones in a row so we're quite relieved to have got that one. But it was very, very tight. I also feel for the Lions, it's unlucky for them," Dobson said in the post-match press conference.

"But if you look at the balance of the last three games, then we probably deserved some sort of bounce in our favour."

On their previous visit to Ellis Park during the Currie Cup in December, the Stormers let slip a 19-9 lead in the second half to go down 22-19.

The Capetonians had developed a bit of a habit of losing games in the dying stages, their 22-20 Currie Cup loss to the Bulls at Newlands also springs to mind, but there has been a concerted effort to see the team finish stronger in matches.

The coach said they had upped their tempo considerably during training and he was happy it paid off at altitude on Saturday.

"The whole season... I think there were five of six games which we lost where we were 12 points clear and let the opposition back in," Dobson said.

While the Stormers still want to be renowned as a strong team up front, playing more attacking rugby is paramount.

"What we have tried to do is work really hard playing this more attacking game and still be able to maul and scrum - this requires extraordinarily conditioning so our training numbers are considerably above match intensity... the guys are playing their hardest day of the week, including match-days, on a Wednesday," Dobson said.

"So, I think it's actually paying off... in the last three games, today included, the Stormers have been really energetic in the last five minutes. We've worked really hard on the conditioning because before, when we were so scrum and maul-based, we couldn't play an attacking game because the big guys didn't have the legs.

"We're trying to get a blend, [we've] still got a way to go to be a better team, but that's been the change... our intensity at training. Last week our ball in play was 41 minutes and 47 seconds which is an extraordinarily high number. So, it's the way rugby's going I think."

The Stormers have become renowned for their strong scrum but this was an area they couldn't dominate against the Lions.

"I think we went 1-2 down in scrum penalties, our scrum wasn't firing today... I think the Lions were exceptional in the scrums," the coach noted.

But for this reason, Dobson said he was happy they could win in other departments.

"We are playing more rugby and we're trying to find and create space. We're playing a more balanced game than we were playing in Super Rugby. It started in the Preparation Series, where we wanted to play a more attacking brand and I think it's coming through.

"We left four of five [tries] out there today... we're not playing just the maul and scrum game and I think that's a good sign."

Meanwhile Dobson's counterpart, Ivan van Rooyen, was understandably dejected after his side suffered a third straight loss to start the competition.

"There's no nice feeling about losing. Obviously there were moments where we weren't consistent or good enough, but there were also some brilliant moments.

"It's tough, the guys are hurting in the change room but it's our responsibility and opportunity to stand up and prepare for next week again."

In next weekend's action, the Lions host the Bulls in Johannesburg, while the Stormers travel to Durban to tackle the Sharks.

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