A definite is if Sevu Reece’s try should have been given. Another is if the Stormers should have gone for the draw or gone for broke at Newlands.
After a top effort in the first half especially, the Stormers fought back from a 19-10 deficit to make it 19-16 and were awarded a penalty in the Crusaders’ 22 in the final minute, giving them the option to go for three points and get a draw or kick to the corner and score a try and win on Saturday.
Captain Siya Kolisi opted for poles, with replacement flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis connecting the easy target to get the draw. While the prospect of beating the log-leading Crusaders may have made the corner and resulting lineout a tempting option, it could also easily have gone the other way seeing as the Crusaders’ maul defence had been superb.
When asked about decision after the game, Kolisi explained: “We could have come away with nothing.”
“I was also hoping that we could kick quickly so that we could get the ball and go again.”
Kolisi, who scored the opening try in stunning fashion, went on to say he felt that his team deserved something from the game, and that “something” was only guaranteed by the penalty option.
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck backed Kolisi’s decision. “That is the best team in the competition for some years now and for us to get something from it is a massive positive,” Fleck added.
“It was a very smart decision from Siya at the end there to go for the draw.
“If we had gone for the corner and lost the ball, we would have been deflated. The way the guys played and the effort they put in there they deserved something out of this game.”
The positive results of the other South African teams didn’t do the Stormers any favours, though.
The Bulls and Lions won their games, while the Jaguares got an especially-sweet W after scoring 28 points to the Hurricanes’ 20. The historic win put them on par with the Bulls at the top of the SA conference.
But the Stormers are still in the running.
Ahead of the game, Fleck spoke about the round 14 fixture being a defining moment for them as the race to the playoffs intensifies.
“I spoke during the week about it being a Rubicon moment for us for the rest of the campaign. If we can play like this against the best competition in the world then we can beat most teams that come our way. I am very proud of the effort that was put in,” Fleck said.
“We cannot afford to look back, we have to look forward. We can only look forward given how we played tonight. If we bring that intensity every week, we will have a good chance of qualifying for the playoffs.”
The Stormers’ next fixture is against the Highlanders at Newlands this Saturday.@WynonaLouw