“The worst 20 minutes I’ve seen.”
That was how Stormers coach Allister Coetzee described his team’s early implosion against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday night.
It followed captain Jean de Villiers’s “pretty disgusting” comment immediately after the game, and it summed up the lacklustre effort by the Cape side in their Super Rugby opener in Johannesburg.
And now things get even tougher for Coetzee’s team as they take on the Hurricanes at Newlands on Friday night after copping a 34-10 pasting from the Lions, their first ever loss to the Joburg side in Super Rugby.
“I mean, to be 20 points down in 20 minutes just shows how we weren’t in it. It doesn’t matter what plans you have, it’s about whether you pitch with the right attitude on the day. It clearly showed, the desire that the Lions had, how they pitched for that game,” Coetzee told the Cape Times last night.
“It’s a rude awakening, as I think that was the poorest performance that I can recall. And as a group, we accept that and take full responsibility for that, because we dropped ourselves and we really dropped our supporters. It was really a shocking performance, in the least.”
Coetzee said that there will be “hard words” said at the team video session this morning at their Bellville training headquarters, where he expected his players to “look each other in the eye” after an error-strewn performance at Ellis Park.
The Lions played with great passion and desire despite fielding a vastly-inexperienced team when compared to the Stormers, who boasted an all-Springbok loose trio in Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi and Duane Vermeulen. But they were overshadowed by the exciting Lions combo of Jaco Kriel, Derick Minnie and Warren Whiteley on the night.
Flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff was again the hero for the Joburg team with a 29-point haul, as the Stormers lacked energy and purpose throughout.
Coetzee bemoaned the 25 turnovers he said they conceded – “including 10 in their 22. That killed us”. But it has to be said that the Cape side lacked a killer punch on attack, as time and again they would just opt for a lineout maul and several pick and gos instead of utilising their backline.
When quizzed about the lack of variety on attack, Coetzee said: “No, it’s not about more variety, but more composure. Mauling was one aspect, and they defended that well. Legally or illegally, it goes to ground and then with the pick and go, we ended over or close to the tryline. If you send the ball too early to 10, then they come off the line very hard.
“So all we needed to show was more composure. To pick and go, and then try to dive over the ruck is obviously not the right thing to do, and we lost the ball there. If you look at that same ruck, their openside wing was under the poles and we had about five or six guys out wide.”
There won’t be many good things to come out of the match for the Stormers, but at least they will have some reinforcements for the Hurricanes clash.
Coetzee said that fullback Jaco Taute (knee) and lock De Kock Steenkamp (groin) are over their respective injuries and will be available for selection this week, but it is unlikely that Taute will be thrown straight into the starting line-up as he has had only limited gametime in the pre-season.
Steenkamp hasn’t played at all in 2014, but there is a problem at lock as the coach said Argentine Manuel Carizza received a blow to his back against the Lions and is “unlikely to play” on Friday. That could see Michael Rhodes being promoted to No 5, although Steenkamp is a lineout specialist and could be asked to take charge.
Coetzee confirmed that Burger had gone off after half an hour at Ellis Park with a groin injury. “Schalk played for 35 minutes and I think he has a bit of a groin strain. But we can only really evaluate it tomorrow and see how bad it is. We’ll see how he responds to treatment and the medication.
“Then Siya also has an AC (shoulder) injury, but he could be fine for selection. Scarra went over his ankle, but he strapped it up and managed to play 80 minutes, so he should be fine to play.”
If Burger is ruled out, it should see Deon Fourie back at openside flank, with Kolisi moving to No 7. That would bring a better balance to the loose trio, as Fourie is excellent at the breakdowns, an area where the Stormers really struggled at Ellis Park.
Meanwhile, the Stormers will have to wait at least another week for flyhalf Peter Grant after his Japanese club Kobe won their knockout match yesterday.
(All SA times)
Auckland: Blues vs Crusaders (8.35am), Melbourne: Rebels vs Cheetahs (10.40am), Newlands: Stormers vs Hurricanes (7.10pm).
Hamilton: Chiefs vs Highlanders (8.35am), Sydney: Waratahs vs Reds (10.40am), Perth: Force vs Brumbies (1pm), Pretoria: Bulls vs Lions (7.10pm).
P W D L F A B P
Sharks 2 2 0 0 58 25 1 9
W’atahs 1 1 0 0 43 21 1 5
H’landers 1 1 0 0 29 21 1 5
Lions 2 2 0 0 55 30 0 8
Cheetahs 2 1 0 1 35 30 1 5
Reds 1 1 0 0 27 21 0 4
Chiefs 1 1 0 0 18 10 0 4
Bulls 2 0 0 2 25 46 1 1
Blues 1 0 0 1 21 29 0 0
C’saders 1 0 0 1 10 18 0 0
Brumbies 1 0 0 1 17 27 0 0
H’ricanes 1 0 0 1 9 27 0 0
Force 1 0 0 1 21 43 0 0
Stormers 1 0 0 1 10 34 0 0
Rebels 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Cape Times