Stormers happy with discipline despite two defeats in Rainbow Cup SA
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CAPE TOWN - Stormers assistant coach Norman Laker says he is happy with the defensive effort the team put up in their 20-16 Rainbow Cup SA defeat to the Bulls at the weekend.
Their first two matches were ones that the hosts could have taken at Cape Town Stadium, their new home, but ill-discipline against the Sharks and a few mistakes and rock-solid defence from the Bulls in their second encounter meant that he Stormers took back-to-back losses, something that’s far from ideal given the fact that they only have four games left in the domestic leg of the competition.
It was always going to be extremely tough to maintain any kind of competitiveness and defensive potency being down to 13 men, as the Stormers were at one stage during the Sharks game, but Laker credited the players’ efforts without the ball despite being at a considerable numerical advantage.
“Against the Sharks we were down to 13 men and we lost that battle 7-6, which is actually very good considering that we defended with 13 men,” the defence coach said.
“We want to have 15 men on the field. Our discipline did let us down, but in saying that it was a gutsy performance overall in both games and I think our defence went well. On Saturday just one or two errors cost us 14 points.”
He added that their most recent result against the Lions hasn’t consumed them, explaining that their focus is on increasing their ball-in-play every week.
“Last year, in a Super Rugby game, we beat them 33-30 and in the last game when we played up there we lost 21-18, I think, after leading 18-9, and it was just our discipline that let us down,” Laker said.
“We have been training really well, I can’t fault the players’ energy.
“Every single player – not just the matchday squad – has been putting in the effort and working really hard. During the Currie Cup we just felt that our ball-in-play wasn’t high enough – sometimes we had ball-in-play (time) of 23, 24 or 25 minutes. We needed to up it to make sure that we keep to national standards, but playing against any South African opposition, it’s still tough, I think. We’re looking forward to the PRO14 at the end of the season.
“Obviously we’re very disappointed with the last two games. Obviously the bounce of the ball didn’t go our way, but we’re back on track and we’ll be ready for the next game. We’re looking forward to Saturday’s clash,” Laker said.
On their preparation for the Ellis Park clash, Laker added: “Preparation wise I don’t think we need to change much, we’ve spoken to the guys in team meetings and we’re sure we’re ready for it.
“We can only prepare for what we’ve seen from the Lions in the past couple of games. They are different, but also not that much different.
The team is still quite similar, so I don’t think they’ll change too much from what they’ve done in the past couple of games.”