Stormers Coach Dobson Uncertain of Top-Four Finish Despite Bonus-Point Win Over Dragons

The DHL Stormers secured a 44-21 bonus-point victory over the Dragons in Newport, Wales, in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship. The Stormers' win keeps them in contention for a top-four finish and a home quarter-final, with two matches remaining in the round-robin phase.

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Nitish Verma
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Stormers Coach Dobson Uncertain of Top-Four Finish Despite Bonus-Point Win Over Dragons

Stormers Coach Dobson Uncertain of Top-Four Finish Despite Bonus-Point Win Over Dragons

The DHL Stormers secured a crucial 44-21 bonus-point victory over the Dragons in Newport, Wales, in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship on Friday. Despite the win, Stormers coach John Dobson expressed uncertainty about his team's chances of finishing in the top four and securing a home quarter-final.

Dobson said, "Look, I think the top four probably went when we lost to Ospreys, but we will keep fighting." The Stormers are currently in fifth place on the standings with 50 points, trailing the fourth-placed Vodacom Bulls by four points. The Bulls defeated log leaders Glasgow Warriors 40-34 in Pretoria on Saturday to remain in contention for a home quarter-final.

The Stormers trailed the Dragons 11-10 at halftime but fought back strongly in the second half, scoring 34 points to secure the bonus-point win. Flyhalf Manie Libbok had a flawless evening off the kicking tee, converting four tries and kicking three penalty goals. Dobson praised his players for their comeback, saying, "Winning away and seeing that Stormers fight and those transitions, it might sound silly, but it's important to us."

Despite the win, Dobson acknowledged that the team's lack of intent with ball in hand and conservative approach in the first half almost cost them the game. The Stormers' big players, including Libbok, fullback Warrick Gelant, and No 8 Evan Roos, stood out in the second half, while the impact of the bench was also telling.

The Stormers have two matches remaining in the round-robin phase of the competition, against Connacht in Galway and the Lions at home. While a top-four finish may be uncertain, Dobson emphasized that the team's focus is on gaining experience and winning away games, rather than worrying about traveling for a knockout fixture. "We've put ourselves in the frame for it now. What we just couldn't have let happen, is not play and not be in the top eight and the play-offs," Dobson said.

In other matches, the Emirates Lions won 34-13 against Cardiff in Johannesburg, maintaining their hopes of a top-eight finish. The Lions are currently in 10th position on 44 points, tied with Connacht and four points behind eighth-placed Benetton. The Hollywoodbets Sharks, however, suffered a disappointing 25-24 loss to Benetton in Durban, receiving a late red card that paved the way for the match-winning try.

With just two rounds remaining, the race for playoff spots in the United Rugby Championship is heating up. The Stormers, Bulls, and Lions are all in contention for a place in the quarter-finals, while the Sharks' loss to Benetton has dealt a blow to their chances. As Dobson said, "We're still fighting for a home quarter-final, and we'll take it one game at a time." The final two rounds will be crucial in determining which South African teams secure their spots in the knockout stages.

Key Takeaways

  • Stormers secure 44-21 bonus-point win over Dragons in Newport, Wales.
  • Coach John Dobson uncertain about top-four finish despite win.
  • Stormers trail fourth-placed Bulls by four points in standings.
  • Lions and Sharks also in contention for playoff spots.
  • Final two rounds crucial in determining South African teams' quarter-final spots.