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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Being at our best is the only thing on our minds – Stormers wing Courtnall Skosan

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If the Stormers’ set pieces are not functioning in Treviso on Saturday, it will be difficult for the former champions to bounce back and grab a third victory in the United Rugby Championship (URC).

The loss against Glasgow last weekend, where they failed to score any tries, could be attributed to their scrums and line-outs not functioning as they normally do, and only an improved performance in these areas can revive their potent attack.

And they’ve been preaching this week about getting their running game back in full swing against Benetton on Saturday. Kick-off is at 5pm, SA time.

But if they can’t set the tone up front, like in the Glasgow game, there won’t be any front-foot ball possession to attack from.

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Stormers’ set-piece struggles

Scrum and line-out errors hampered the Capetonians, as well as their discipline.

After scoring 12 tries in their first two games, coach John Dobson’s side couldn’t get over the whitewash in Scotland.

But they will want to set the record straight in the Stadio Comunale di Monigo.

Benetton, though, are one of three unbeaten teams in the tournament, and the clash in Italy will not be a walk in the park for the 2022 URC champions.

But Stormers wing Courtnall Skosan feels that if they focus on what they want to set right, they can achieve their first tour victory on Saturday.

“Every game in this competition is a tough one, especially playing opponents away from home,” the former Bok speedster told the Stormers website.

“We were just unfortunate with a few calls and opportunities we had in the second half. We will be better going forward. We know what we are able to do when we play our game.”

Skosan, who appeared in 12 Tests for the Springboks in 2017, played in the English Premiership before heading to Cape Town to link up with the Stormers, so he knows just how difficult it is playing in the northern hemisphere.

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Running with the ball in hand

The Stormers will, however, play on a surface close to what they are used to at home, and they are determined to get the backline – with the likes of Skosan, Ben Loader, Leolin Zas and Warrick Gelant – running with the ball in hand on Saturday.

Skosan scored in his first outing for his new side in Stellenbosch against the Scarlets, and will want to contribute more if he gets the chance to run out – especially with the other dangerous attackers in the backline.

“We think alike when it comes to how we see and want to play rugby. I’m enjoying that. And the crazy thing is that we are growing weekly. That’s always a good sign. My game complements our backline and the way we approach the game,” the 32-year-old said.

“Conditions are changing daily in Europe. The biggest focus for us this week is to focus on polishing our game and what we can control when we go onto the field.”

Skosan also warned that they cannot get too far ahead of themselves and run the risk of underestimating the Italian club. That could backfire and lead to a second successive loss, which could cause their tour to spiral out of control.

The home side have beaten the Lions and Cardiff, while they also drew with defending champions Munster.

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‘Cover our bases’

“Benetton is a quality side, and you have to respect that. We know where we want to go, and this weekend (on Saturday) is the next step. Being at our best is the only thing on our minds. They are a very well-coached team. We have analysed their game and will make sure we cover all our bases,” Skosan said.

“The most important thing for us is to focus on putting onto the field what we have worked on tirelessly for the last couple of months.

“We will give it our all to make sure we give ourselves the best opportunity to walk away with the desired result.”

The Stormers will be looking to make their scrums and line-outs count after they struggled in these facets of the game last time out. Should the forwards click, it can provide good front-foot ball for the backs to run riot.

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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