Stormers to persist with six-two split on bench in URC semifinal

The Stormers are set to persist with their six-two split of forwards to backs on the bench for the United Rugby Championship (URC) semifinal against Ulster, despite a bit of drama in their quarterfinal win over Edinburgh this past weekend.

Within the opening five minutes of the game against Edinburgh the Stormers lost inside centre Rikus Pretorius to an injury, meaning young utility back Sacha Mngomezulu had to come on for his URC debut, leaving Stormers scrumhalf replacement Godlen Masimla as the only back left on the bench.

Despite the risk, Stormers coach John Dobson believes it is one worth taking and one that they will continue with against Ulster.

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“The six-two split always carries an element of a risk but we are fortunate with both our (replacement) scrumhalves, in Paul de Wet and Godlen, they can play URC level at wing, it’s like having a Francois Hougaard (on the bench),” explained Dobson.

“Essentially we do have three backs because you don’t have to sub a scrumhalf, they are always fit enough unless they’re injured. So it’s not as risky as people think.

“So I’m not going to change the six forwards and with the scrumhalves we have we can afford to do it.”

Encouraging performance

Dobson was also encouraged by the impressive performance of Mngomezulu, who despite being thrown into the deep end, played superbly until he was forced off in the second half with cramp.

“He was very good. It was tough because he’s played for us at junior level and in the Currie Cup at 10 or 15 but he’s never played 12. So to throw him into a quarterfinal at 12 it was remarkable how well he played,” said Dobson.

“It was a big occasion for him and he did well, and he will be in the mix again this weekend, whether it is starting or on the bench.”

Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff believes that his side is ready for the challenge of Ulster, and that they are better prepared than during their earlier season match where they just edged the win 23-20.

“I think we have a much better understanding of what Ulster brings, through the season having analysed them. I think we as a team made a lot of mistakes in our first game against them, but quickly rectified them over the rest of the season,” said Kitshoff.