The Bulls’ late implosion against the Jaguares completed a most miserable weekend for Cape rugby fans – the Stormers were now officially last on the log in the South African conference.
Robbie Fleck’s team also have 14 log points after seven matches, but the Jaguares have an advantage of 10 in terms of points difference.
As if losing 24-12 to a no-name brand Reds outfit in Brisbane wasn’t bad enough, the Stormers will be without captain Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, JD Schickerling, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Ali Vermaak, Jano Vermaak, Dan du Plessis, Chris van Zyl and – dare we say it – SP Marais for Friday’s final tour game against the Rebels in Melbourne (12.45pm SA time kickoff).
The Capetonians have nine league games left, with six of those at Newlands. It’s a long shot, but they do still have a chance of saving their Super Rugby season and at least make the playoffs.
To achieve that, though, they need to put incoming head coach John Dobson in charge immediately – in time for the Rebels game.
We all know the problems that have hamstrung the Stormers during Fleck’s tenure, and nothing has changed in 2019. So, why hold on to the deadwood?
Yes, the lengthy injury list isn’t helping, but most sides have to deal with that anyway. If you just look at what is available, then Fleck is getting it wrong on most counts in selection.
Marais is supposedly in the set-up for his excellent goal-kicking, despite a limited skill-set and lack of pace to be a Super Rugby wing.
But even though he’s gotten the belated chop in recent weeks, he’s still come on off the bench and missed two crucial conversions that may have changed the course of the result.
Dillyn Leyds’ class shines through in every match, but he is kept out of the action at left wing.
Damian Willemse is stuck at the back in the No 15 jersey instead of running the show at flyhalf, where Jean-Luc du Plessis has battled to rediscover his flair since returning from a long-term injury.
The make-up of the forwards against the Reds was an absolute shambles. Rising star Juarno Augustus was kept on the bench, with Jaco Coetzee – who seems more suited to openside flank due to his size – was at No 8.
Cobus Wiese is an ideal blindside flank, but was employed at No 4 lock, despite a specialist second-rower in Salmaan Moerat being available.
Herschel Jantjies has been one of the few positives of a rather dire Stormers season so far, and in a game they had to win, he should’ve continued in the No 9 jersey at Suncorp Stadium.
Outside centre Ruhan Nel is also taking longer than expected to settle down at Super Rugby level.
Reds v Stormers | Super Rugby 2019 Rd 8 Highlights— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) April 5, 2019
The @Reds_Rugby stepped up after the break to put three tries over the line, beating @THESTORMERS 24-12 in a tough battle in Brisbane.#SuperRugby #REDvSTO pic.twitter.com/Q7IGQOroa6
And with regards to their overall attack, the Stormers’ execution and tactics let them down. Good ball was often kicked away, and the penchant for trying cross-kicks inside the opposition’s half is not working either.
As we’ve seen at Manchester United, the introduction of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the head honcho has reinvigorated the same squad that were stuck in second gear under Jose Mourinho.
Sometimes just a different voice is all that is needed to create a dramatic turnaround.
The Stormers bosses have already appointed Dobson to take over from Fleck in 2020. But the time has come to put Dobson in charge immediately – especially as there is still an opportunity to be successful this season...@ashfakmohamed