The Stormers will probably lose on Saturday against the Crusaders.
That estimation is based on the fact that the Cape side have never won in Christchurch before. So, no matter how they had performed in their first two matches, that would be the likely outcome.
But it doesn’t mean that the Stormers just have to lie down and “play dead”, and give up before a ball has been kicked in anger. As fortunate as they were to claim a late one-point victory over the Hurricanes with a typical driving maul try, there was a noticeable improvement in their performance in comparison to the previous week against the Lions.
There was greater physicality and intensity by the forwards, who had looked short of a gallop at Ellis Park. After initially slipping off tackles around the fringes, the Stormers put in those famous big hits, especially Scarra Ntubeni and Siya Kolisi. The scrums were also more settled and dominant at times, although the lineouts were a major problem.
Man of the Match Damian de Allende provided the go-forward in midfield, and Gio Aplon and Kobus van Wyk ran with finesse on occasion.
The Stormers had more than enough try-scoring opportunities – maybe around six in total – well inside the Hurricanes’ half. They would get into or around the 22-metre line, and inevitably, a lineout would be lost or a ball knocked-on. Or as we saw with Jaco Taute, a chip kick being attempted 10m out from the tryline ...
So what to do with the ball when they are presented with those scoring opportunities?
Coach Allister Coetzee and backline boss Robbie Fleck need to come up with fresh ideas in such situations and not tell the forwards just to bash it up the middle. Admittedly, there was less “bashing” against the Canes than in the Lions game, but Coetzee can’t keep saying that he is “positive about the whole thing, as long as you keep creating”. Creating chances doesn’t give you points on the board.
He spoke after the game about how the youngsters in the side can’t be expected to make the right decisions in the attacking zone, but apart from the 22-year-old Kobus van Wyk, all the other backs are in at least their second season of Super Rugby.
Damian de Allende, Demetri Catrakilis and Louis Schreuder are next in line in terms of experience, and then you have De Villiers, Aplon and Taute – all Springboks.
Sure, Peter Grant’s wise head will be a huge boost in terms of decision-making, and he would be able to guide Schreuder around the field too.
But at the moment, despite creating those opportunities on attack, the Stormers are not giving themselves a chance and are needlessly making life very difficult. Win your own lineouts, take your points early on when you get kickable penalties, and try to do something out of the ordinary on attack – perhaps a quick tap penalty or a cross-kick – against the Crusaders and the Chiefs next week as pick-and-gos won’t break down those teams’ defences.
Innovation is the name of the game, so why not mix things up by opting for lineout throws to the prop at the front now and again, especially as they will be facing two giants in Crusaders locks Sam Whitelock and Dominic Bird?
Then the Stormers are at least in with a shout, and you never know what may happen ...
TWEET OF THE WEEK
@losi11 (New Stormers wing Sailosi Tagicakibau): Big week beginning with a long flight to NZ then taking on the Crusaders! Can’t wait!! #SuperRugby #DHLStormers #travelday
WHO TO FOLLOW
@OliKebble: The young Stormers loosehead prop is on his first tour in Super Rugby.
w Follow me on Twitter: @ashfakmohamed