The DHL Stormers are preparing to face off against Connacht in the upcoming BKT URC home semi-final at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town. While the Stormers were pleased to secure a home game thanks to Connacht’s upset victory over Ulster, they won’t be taking their opponents lightly.
DHL Stormers’ impressive home record
The DHL Stormers have established a formidable record at the DHL Stadium, with 19 successive wins. The team has also won two matches in Stellenbosch and took a home match to Gqeberha, winning all three matches. In the history of the BKT URC, they have lost just eight times in 40 matches.
Respect for Connacht
Despite their success, the DHL Stormers remain wary of Connacht’s dogged spirit. The Irish side has consistently punched above their weight and has shown their ability to take on the bigger teams. DHL Stormers head coach John Dobson has emphasized the need for respect towards their opponents, acknowledging their culture and team ethos.
“They are tough opposition. With respect to Connacht, a team that has crossed the equator is more preferable opposition rather than somebody flying down from up country or Durban,” said Dobson.
“We can feel confident, but that confidence must not be interpreted as arrogance. We have massive respect for the culture and team ethos of Connacht. They fight, and their attack shape is really good. The way they took Ulster apart at the breakdown was good.
“Like Seabelo (Senatla) always says, ‘we got dog’; they have that ‘dog’ in them. Connacht is a great story, to do what they are doing with the smallest budget. They are a team that does not go away, and Ulster experienced that, as have other teams. They have a helluva lot of mongrel in them.”
DHL Stormers’ preparation
DHL Stormers assistant coach Dawie Snyman has highlighted that the hosts are preparing for a heavyweight arm-wrestle against Connacht. The team is expecting a tough match against quality opposition. Snyman also acknowledged Connacht’s fighting spirit, noting that they fight for everything on the field.
“They are a tough team, we realised that when we played them in Galway last year. They are a quality side, well-coached and they have experienced players in the Irish setup.
“Connacht are a team we won’t take lightly. That game in the first round was tight until the red card and they still came back. They fight for everything. They fight for every ball, every ruck and you can see they’re playing for each other on the field.
“That makes them quite a threat, but we’ve got our own character and we’re a strong team.” Whatever the result, both teams will know they have been in a dog fight.
Both teams are preparing for a challenging match, and the outcome is likely to be a closely fought dog fight. While the DHL Stormers hold the advantage of playing on home soil, Connacht’s determined spirit and ability to punch above their weight make them a formidable opponent but bookies expect Stormers to win by 15pts.