FILE: Stormers flyhalf Robert du Preez gets his backline moving against the Kings on Saturday. Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix
CAPE TOWN – The Stormers made a lot of mistakes in their 41-10 win over the Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, but coach Robbie Fleck believes those errors were just “teething problems” on their way to perfecting a more attacking brand of rugby.
Fleck’s side had a slow start to the game and the hosts enjoyed some possession in the early stages, but the visitors warmed up as the game progressed and scored six beautiful tries to the Kings’ one at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
One of the standout points in the Stormers’ play was their use of the offload, which played a huge part in a number of their tries. And the Cape side also ran the ball impressively and got a few great passes away, while others went astray. But if you play that kind of game, those errors are bound to slip in.
And while Fleck admitted that the game was frustrating at times, he also added that he was happy to have bagged a win and keep their early Super Rugby record clean.
“It was just teething problems and to be fair, there were some really good moments and a little bit of a let-down. But it’s where we’re going, we’re going to put ourselves under pressure with a bit more high risk. But we’re pleased with the overall outcome and the bonus-point,” Fleck said after the match.
“I’m probably a bit frustrated with our performance. But the game was certainly never in doubt. But I would have liked us to have kicked on a bit more, there were stages there where we could have, but we probably let ourselves down with an error here and there. We want to keep ball in hand and we want to put teams under pressure. But well played to the Kings.”
One of the most frustrating moments for Stormers would certainly have been the breakdown area, where flankers Thembelani Bholi and especially Chris Cloete menaced the Stormers at the breakdowns and managed to turn over possession a number of times.
The lineouts also became a problem for Fleck’s charges later in the game and replacement hooker Ramone Samuels failed to silence the loud criticism about his lineout throws since he joined the Stormers during the pre-season. And his performance at the set-piece highlighted the need for the Stormers and Western Province to boost their resources at hooker, especially given the fact that Bongi Mbonambi and the injured Scarra Ntubeni could join the Springboks later this year.
And while the Stormers’ work at the breakdowns let them down at times, they certainly did better in the physicality department when it came to the collisions – something that they didn’t do very well in against the Jaguares last week.
“I felt that we were better physically. There were a lot of line breaks from our side. We were just a little bit late to the cleans and that stopped a lot of momentum and tries being scored,” Fleck added.
But the biggest positive the Stormers boss took from the game was their progress in terms of keeping the ball in hand.
“We can only build on from here. I’m super excited. We’ve made major strides in terms of our game and that was clear to see when we got a bit of momentum and kept ball in hand.”
The Stormers can also feel confident with the youngsters they have at their disposal this year. And while both scrumhalf Justin Phillips and loose forward Jaco Coetzee made decent debuts, it was junior star Damian Willemse who stole the limelight in the last minutes with his superb stepping and handling skills that aided the Stormers’ attack in the later stages. And the newbies’ contributions excited Fleck, who has emphasised the importance of bringing these kinds of players into their set-up.
“Damian Willemse was outstanding in the last five minutes, and Justin Philllips and Jaco Coetzee also did well. It just shows the youth that we’ve got coming through and that we’re prepared to back these youngsters,” Fleck said.
“I loved the way Phillips scored that try, and Damian was on for five minutes and had two touches of the ball and he created magic. So I’m certainly excited about what’s coming forward in Stormers rugby and also South African rugby.”
Cape Times/Iol News.